Horse News

Remove Budd-Falen from Interior post

by as published on The Independent Record

“Ryan Zinke may be gone from the Interior Department, but he left plenty of foxes guarding the hen house…”

During his two years as secretary, Mr. Zinke never got around to filling several important Interior Department positions, but he did slip plenty of people into jobs that wield tremendous power over our public lands, wildlife and outdoor heritage.

One chief example is Karen Budd-Falen, the Interior Department’s deputy solicitor for parks and wildlife. This position is not subject to Senate confirmation, which meant that Zinke could get away with quietly appointing a radical like Budd-Falen right before he left the department. While not well known, the deputy solicitor has a great deal of influence on litigation and policy affecting our natural resources. The legal interpretations made by the deputy solicitor can literally mean life or death for endangered species and determine whether wildlife refuges and national parks will be opened up to oil and gas drilling and other inappropriate uses.

Budd-Falen is an odd choice to be the nation’s top legal advocate for fish, wildlife and national parks. A Wyoming lawyer, Budd-Falen has spent her entire career attacking public lands, the federal government, endangered species and public wildlife. As an activist-lawyer, Budd-Falen has represented some of the most extreme anti-public lands figures in the nation, including outlaw rancher Cliven Bundy. Bundy is an extremist who doesn’t believe in the existence of the federal government and threatened armed violence against government employees who tried to stop him from decades of illegal cattle grazing on public lands.

Throughout her career, Budd-Falen’s legal arguments have almost never been held up in court. They just provide a soapbox for anti-government rhetoric and fuel disagreements between stakeholders, driving people apart instead of solving real problems.

She’s gotten less brazen in more recent years, adopting a more insidious strategy for privatizing public lands for personal and corporate profiteering at the expense of our outdoor heritage, wildlife and peaceful community prosperity. Prior to her being given a job with the federal government she disdains, her new approach has been taking her soapbox-for-hire on the road to individual counties conducting workshops targeting local government officials. She brought her six-hour land use workshop to Ravalli County Nov. 18, 2017, hosted by state Rep. Theresa Manzella at Hamilton Middle School.

The question now is whether President Trump’s new director for Interior Secretary, David Bernhardt, will continue Zinke’s destructive legacy or will work to defend public land, wildlife and taxpayer resources.

Every outdoor enthusiast should be paying close attention to Budd-Falen and the influence she has on how our public lands and wildlife are managed over the coming years. The fox is now “guarding” our chickens and colluding with local weasels across the country. Our responsible citizenship, quality of life and obligation to past and future generations requires our increased awareness and engagement in public policy efforts, and eternal vigilance. Mr. Bernhardt, no one is being fooled; it’s time to replace Budd-Falen with someone that respects life, appreciates the value of all life and is actually qualified for public service.

4 replies »

  1. Acting Interior Secretary Bernhardt Puts Public Land Sale/Disposal Back on the Table
    March 21, 2019 by Jayson O’Neill

    Western Values Project Statement on Interior’s Faux Order on Public Access

    After Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt issued a Secretarial Order on federal public lands disposal, Western Values Project Executive Director Chris Saeger issued the following statement:
    Acting Secretary Bernhardt is only rolling out this measure now to paint a false picture of himself before his Senate confirmation hearing in a week. Make no mistake: He is one of the most anti-conservation nominees for Interior Secretary in American history. No amount of 11th-hour media stunts will change that.”

    Bernhardt issued a memo nixing a land disposal proposal in Utah.
    Background on Interior Secretary nominee David Bernhardt’s conflicts and record.
    DOI political appointees supportive of public land sale/transfer:

    Karen Budd-Falen, the Deputy Solicitor for Parks and Wildlife,

    Liked by 1 person


    Daniel Jorjani, the Department of the Interior’s principal deputy solicitor, once advised Charles Koch. Now, he takes meetings with industry representatives and rolls back conservation protections.
    JAN 10, 2018

    Two August discussions with Karen Budd-Falen, a Wyoming property rights attorney who has a long history of representing the cattle ranching industry and opposing the Endangered Species Act and other environmental laws.

    Liked by 1 person

    They’re Coming to Steal Your Public Lands. Again.
    The Recording the Feds Tried to Hide Reveals Parts of the Plan (posted above)
    By Kelly Fuller, Western Watersheds Project

    The latest round is happening right now. David Bernhardt, Acting Secretary of the Department of the Interior, whom the U.S. Senate may confirm as Secretary of the Interior later this week, and Mark Gordon, the Governor of Wyoming, are reportedly in discussions to give the State of Wyoming much more influence in environmental decisions on federal land in the state.
    Bernhardt’s Department of the Interior may authorize the Wyoming state government to lead environmental reviews of proposed decisions on federal land inside Wyoming. If Wyoming’s governor gets what he wants, state employees in Cheyenne could lead environmental reviews on public land that belongs to all Americans, not just people who live in Wyoming. State of Wyoming staffers could soon be writing the first drafts of the Department of the Interior’s approval decisions on federal lands in Wyoming.
    A recording of a conference call the Bureau of Land Management had with a privileged few in fall 2017 makes clear what’s at stake – so much so that the Department of the Interior didn’t want you to listen to it. Western Watersheds Project first had to file a Freedom of Information Act request and then sue Interior to get it.

    The recording came from a September 2017 invitation-only conference call during which the Bureau of Land Management told state and local governments about the agency’s desire to

    Speed up and shrink federal environmental reviews, not just for infrastructure projects but also for changes livestock grazing permittees want to make to public land;

    • End environmental review entirely for some types of projects (which ones remain unspecified);
    • Decrease requirements that BLM consult with federal wildlife agencies about Endangered Species Act-listed plants and wildlife;
    • Increase the influence of state and local governments on federal environmental analysis by conforming federal land management to state and local plans that frequently boost commodity production at the expense of native wildlife and a healthy environment;
    • Restrict the public’s ability to obtain government records through Freedom of Information Act requests;
    • Reduce or eliminate the ability of public-interest groups to be reimbursed for attorneys’ fees after courts find that the BLM has violated federal law;
    • Reduce public notice for certain changes to BLM Resource Management Plans by approving them using environmental assessments rather than environmental impact statements (which changes remain unspecified);
    • Reduce protections on lands the BLM manages for wilderness characteristics (which protections remain unspecified);
    • Change the process for creating Areas of Environmental Concern;
    • Give counties more say in BLM environmental reviews;
    • Reduce National Historic Preservation Act review; and
    • Reduce BLM Washington oversight of in-state BLM environmental analyses and decisions.

    Liked by 1 person

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