Interior Dept’s New Land Management Rule a ‘Seismic Shift’ Toward Conservation

Posted on May 9, 2024

After decades of prioritizing oil and gas drilling, hardrock mining, and livestock grazing on public lands across the country, the federal government will auction off “restoration leases” and “mitigation leases” to entities with plans to restore or conserve the lands, Maxine Joselow reported in the Washington Post, as a new far-reaching rule from the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management puts conservation, recreation, and renewable energy development on equal footing with resource extraction. The rule “helps restore balance to our public lands as we continue using the best-available science to restore habitats, guide strategic and responsible development, and sustain our public lands for generations to come,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement. The rule is expected to draw praise from conservationists and legal challenges from fossil fuel industry groups and Republican officials, some of whom have lambasted the move as a “land grab.” Under President Biden, the BLM has shifted toward protection of public lands from the twin threats of climate change and development. “We oversee 245 million acres [a tenth of the nation’s land], and every land manager will tell you that climate change is already happening. It’s already impacting our public lands,” Tracy Stone-Manning, BLM Director, said during a Washington Post Live event last year. “We see it in pretty obvious ways, through unprecedented wildfires.”

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