Interior’s musical chairs spin out of control

(photo: NPR)

“Putting Karen Budd-Falen in this position is like putting Genghis Khan in charge of a day care center” – Peter Jenkins, PEER

SOURCE:  Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)

For Immediate Release: Jun 11, 2019
Contact: Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337


Complaints Mount as Sagebrush Rebel Installed Over Wildlife and Parks

Washington, DC — The Secretary of Interior keeps illegally shuffling political officials into jobs requiring Senate confirmation, according to a complaint filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The latest move places a controversial property rights lawyer associated with the infamous Bundy Clan and right-wing militias to oversee all Interior actions by both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service.

On May 23, 2019, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt quietly signed the 27th version of an order purporting to delegate duties of presidentially appointed positions to a series of acting officials. In this latest order, Bernhardt taps Karen Budd-Falen for the role of Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. Budd-Falen has spent her career challenging the legitimacy of federal wildlife protections in addition to fighting grazing regulations and other land use authority as part of the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion.

“Putting Karen Budd-Falen in this position is like putting Genghis Khan in charge of a day care center,” stated PEER Senior Counsel Peter Jenkins, pointing out that she was previously slotted into an Interior deputy solicitor job that required no Senate review. “Since David Bernhardt knows Budd-Falen is so right wing that she could never be confirmed for the job he just gave her, this maneuver only underlines the Administration’s continuing contempt for the Senate’s constitutional advice and consent prerogative.”


8 replies »

  1. Budd-Falen’s disdain for our wild heritage extends beyond the land itself. She has called the Endangered Species Act (ESA) “a sword to tear down the American economy,” and the website for her firm touts her lawsuits and testimony against the ESA, National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Water Act, and other critical environmental laws that protect biodiversity and public health.


  2. This PEER release also states “PEER has filed a series of complaints about the illegality of these attempts to circumvent Senate confirmation, the latest filed today with the Department’s Inspector General concerning actions that were claimed to have been taken by the “BLM Director” when the office was vacant.” Then links to this:

    Click to access so_3345_a27_temporary_redelegation_of_authority_for_certain_vacant_non-career_senate-confirmed_positions_0.pdf

    Sec. 3 Delegation. All functions, duties, and responsibilities of the following positions are
    hereby delegated to the specified employees:

    a. Deputy Secretary to Kate MacGregor, Deputy Chief of Staff
    b. Solicitor to Daniel Jorjani, Principal Deputy Solicitor
    c. Assistant Secretary – Policy, Management and Budget to Susan Combs,
    Senior Advisor to the Secretary
    d. Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks to Karen Budd-Falen, Deputy
    Solicitor for Parks and Wildlife
    e. Director, Bureau of Land Management to Casey Hammond, Principal Deputy
    Assistant Secretary – Land and Minerals Management
    f. Special Trustee for American Indians to Jerold Gidner, Principal Deputy Special
    Trustee for American Indians
    g. Director, National Park Service to P. Daniel Smith, Deputy Director, National
    Park Service
    h. Director, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement to Glenda
    Owens, Deputy Director, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and
    i. Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to Margaret Everson, Principal
    Deputy Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

    Liked by 1 person

  3. From PEER ( Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility)



    The legal authority of the acting heads for major Interior Department agencies remains murky, according to documents posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Consequently, the validity of actions taken by the current and former acting directors for the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Fish & Wildlife Service is subject to court challenge, potentially nullifying much of the Trump administration’s resource agenda.

    This February, PEER filed a complaint with Interior’s Office of Inspector General (IG) charging that the designations of acting directors in these three agencies are in blatant violation of the

    Federal Vacancies Reform Act. Under that law, any action taken by a noncompliant official “shall have no force or effect” nor may such action be later “ratified.”

    In March, the IG referred the complaint to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress.


    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is an interesting quote that may relate to the goings-on at DOI. Bernhardt may also be in this situation?

    Temps are running the Pentagon in a perilous time

    “The law prohibits Esper from being nominated for the job while also serving as acting secretary. If he is nominated, he’ll have to step down and move to another job until the Senate votes on his confirmation. So that would mean yet another acting secretary in the meantime.

    Anyone chosen to fill in temporarily won’t have all of the decision-making power that a defence secretary needs when the nation is at war in several countries and conducting major military operations in dozens.”


    Liked by 1 person

  5. Surprise, surprise … not!
    Curtis is a local anti-wild horse and burro bully in Modoc county and a spearhead into promoting (and getting big money for) the local farm bureau to be in charge of the recent Devil’s Garden wild horse fiasco where many of the wild horses “disappeared”.
    And guess who one of his “buddies” is? Karen Budd-Fallen.
    Like minds (black hearts) think alike.


  6. Irony in Big Piney: On Karen Budd-Falen and the Wind River Glaciers

    Recently, Budd-Falen was hired to represent the Stillwater county commissioners in the Beartooth Front lawsuit, arguing against Montana landowners and their desire for citizen-initiated zoning. Citizen-initiated zoning is a process where landowners guide the development of their own land-use plans. In this case, it’s about the Montana landowners wish to guide the mineral rights on their own properties. However, now Budd-Falen represents the government’s desire for control over mineral rights.

    Herein lies the dichotomy of Karen Budd-Falen. Above ground, her track record shows she solidly supports unrestricted private land use, especially for landowners, so they may go about their businesses without federal rules or intervention. Below ground, she works for the mineral rights owners, disallowing surface owners’ local input and opening these areas to the oil and gas industries.


    Liked by 1 person

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