Scott Streater, E&E News reporter
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt quietly signed an order placing a top Interior Department official in charge of the Bureau of Land Management through at least the end of July.
Casey Hammond, Interior’s principal deputy assistant secretary for land and minerals management, will exercise all “functions, duties, and responsibilities” of BLM director, according to Bernhardt’s order, which is dated May 11.
The secretarial order also extends the temporary appointments of eight other “Presidentially appointed and Senate-confirmed positions” through July 31, including Kate MacGregor as acting deputy Interior secretary, Daniel Jorjani as acting Interior solicitor, P. Daniel Smith as acting National Park Service director and Margaret Everson as acting director of the Fish and Wildlife Service.
The only new appointment covered in the order is Hammond’s.
Neither Interior nor BLM has made any formal announcement about Hammond, who is replacing Brian Steed, the bureau’s deputy director of policy and programs, who was granted the authority to act as director in October 2017 by former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
The news comes as Steed — still listed on BLM’s website as the deputy director of policy and programs “exercising authority of the director” — was confirmed by the Utah Senate yesterday for a Cabinet-level position on Gov. Gary Herbert’s staff.
Herbert (R) announced last month that he had appointed Steed as executive director of Utah’s Department of Natural Resources, subject to state Senate confirmation (Greenwire, April 30).
BLM did not respond to requests for answers on Hammond’s temporary assignment, when he started at the bureau or when Steed left the bureau.
Herbert’s office had said Steed would take the helm of the Department of Natural Resources on June 1.
But a source with knowledge of the situation said Hammond has been in the acting position since last week.
Furthermore, the source said it was Hammond who instructed BLM to remove boilerplate language from its news releases that describes the bureau’s mission as helping conserve public lands for future generations (Greenwire, May 15).
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