“Dinky” Zinke Ends Obama-Era Policy Requiring Energy Companies Fund Environmental ‘Mitigation’ Projects

by Tim Pierce as published on TennesseeStar.com

“Stupid knows no bounds!”

The Department of the Interior (DOI) is scrapping an Obama-era policy mandating energy companies mitigate development on federal land by funding offsite environmental projects.

Daily Caller News FoundationThe Bureau of Land Management (BLM) — a DOI-controlled agency and the largest land-owning agency in the U.S. — began forcing oil, gas and coal companies to pay mitigation fees to the BLM or a third party under former President Barack Obama. The fees would be used to fund environmental projects such as restoring habitat or protecting wetlands. The size of the fee was calculated by the BLM to cover the damage done by the proposed development.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke retracted the policy in a memo to the BLM Tuesday.

“This policy means that Americans … who want to use their public lands will no longer be required to pay money to BLM or third parties as a form of ‘mitigation’ when they seek new permits from BLM,” DOI spokeswoman Faith Vander Voort told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “BLM will continue to require project proponents to avoid or minimize actual harm on public lands as appropriate.”

“This policy also does not affect State mitigation programs, or compensatory mitigation under other federal laws,” Vander Voort added.

The idea behind the Obama-era policy has floated around BLM officials and government offices for several decades. In 1995, A BLM-Wyoming state official said compensatory mitigation fees could “appear to be an unauthorized tax or an equally unauthorized attempt to augment BLM’s existing appropriations,” according to the memo.

Environmentalists bashed the change in policy and accused the Trump administration of selling out public lands to industry.

“This is the latest dismal action by Secretary Zinke and the Trump administration to put special interests ahead of our natural heritage,” Center for Biological Diversity Government Affairs director Brett Hartl told Reuters. “It is deeply out of touch with the values of all Americans that support a healthy environment and vibrant wildlife communities.”

4 comments

  1. From POGO (Project on Government Oversight)

    How Zinke’s Interior Department Has Impeded Oversight

    Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and his aides have engaged in a pattern of disregarding, and perhaps even attempting to evade, oversight and accountability, according to government documents released in the last few months related to three investigations of alleged misconduct involving him and top Interior Department political appointees.

    A Missing Paper Trail

    Similar issues hampered another investigation. The Interior Department “did not document its plans or reasons” for reassigning dozens of its top career officials last year, the agency’s Office of Inspector General wrote in another report issued last month.
    The watchdog went on to note that a board convened to make reassignment decisions was filled completely by the Trump Administration’s political appointees.
    The board was chaired by James Cason, Zinke’s associate deputy secretary. The New York Times described him as “the key architect of what some Interior Department employees now call the Thursday night massacre”-a reference to the reassignments.

    “Lapses in Judgement”

    When he was a Navy SEAL, Zinke had his own run-in with a military investigation. The Intercept reported that anonymous sources said Zinke had repeatedly lied about why he was traveling on the government’s dime—two SEAL officers found he engaged in a “pattern of travel fraud.” When these concerns emerged earlier during his run for Congress in 2014, Zinke released military records from 1999 that cited his “lapses in judgement.
    http://www.pogo.org/blog/2018/05/how-zinkes-interior-department-has-impeded-oversight.html

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Of course they would rescind the monies for mitigation! These private industries are not burdened by “compensatory mitigation fees could appear to be an unauthorized tax” They are raking in profits far in excess of what they pay the American public to extract at huge profit from lands we should be safeguarding. What a bunch of bureaucratic gobble de gook.
    This pathetic bandaid—““BLM will continue to require project proponents to avoid or minimize actual harm on public lands as appropriate.”” has NO teeth to it, what so ever. “as appropriate”???? that is a really slippery term, designed to allow just about any kind of devastation and behavior to avoid penalty, especially when the “requiring agency” is the same outfit that wants to facilitate the destruction. (“development”)

    Like

  3. Since there has been no actual effort (with consequences) to preventing this – he & others in power will continue to escalate until or if they are stopped! Apparently, our “representatives” in Congress have no interest in preventing more damage to our wildlife and its habitat – for fear of not being elected – what are they there for?

    Liked by 1 person

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