Environmental War Crimes – Part 3 – Land

Caribou in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, soon to be hosting oil drilling platforms and roads.

On Monday,  we started our multi-point breakdown of a singularly destructive bill – HR 3354, a legislative monster of an appropriations act, whose length and complexity hides gifts, in the form of riders, for industries and anti-environmental extremists.  We’ve already discussed the harm that is proposed to our health and that of our families with the relaxation of protections for our air and water.

Environmental War Crimes – Part 1 – Air
Environmental War Crimes – Part 2 – Water

Today we see parts of our natural heritage being given away to large corporations  in exchange for devoted patronage, land that will be spoiled for the public forever.

This video is just to give you a taste of the kind of corruption that’s happening right now. Bill HR 3354 just continues our losses…

Some of these business-deal bills, like the one discussed in the video and these two described below, have been passed already…

Habitat Destruction – Done Deals

H.R. 1 – Opens up the pristine Artic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling into a “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act”.

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1) Title II – PASSED

H.R. 1 – Senator Lisa Murkowski gives good value for the $1.4 million dollars she gets from the oil and gas industries: Too repugnant to stand on it’s own, her rider authorized an oil drilling deal of at least two parcels of 400,000 acres each, along with access roads, in the middle of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, our nation’s largest wildlife refuge and one of the most untouched wildlife havens left in the world. The drilling would occur in the Coastal Plain, is the biological heart of the refuge containing nesting habitat for about 200 species of migratory birds; critical denning habitat for threatened polar bears; spawning streams for Dolly Varden and other fish species; and room to roam for caribou, wolves, muskoxen, Dall sheep, Arctic foxes and many other wildlife species.

Embed from Getty Images

H.R. 2810 – Allows the military to circumvent the process for withdrawal of public land.

  • National Defense Authorization Act, 2018 (H.R. 2810) Title XXVIII – Military Construction General Provisions, – Subtitle D – Military Withdrawals. – PASSED
  • Eliminates the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Servicenatural resources management plans for military installations, threatening wildlife, public access and recreation, and affecting other lawful multiple uses.
  • Allows temporary use of public lands for military purposes and transfers of parcels of public land less than 5,000 acres to military departments while excluding public input.
  • Excludes public participation in decision-making for withdrawals of public lands for military use.
  • Threatens hundreds of thousands of acres of public land, including national wildlife refuges (such as Desert and Stillwater refuges in Nevada).

Just the beginning of the national garage sale of our land and natural resources. Calls to Action to stop this bill.

Action: Make these calls, and just as importantly, share this with friends and family that live in GOP-dominated states and ask them to call their legislators.

Minimal Script #1: I’m calling from [zip code] and I’m asking Sen. [___] to reject HR 3354, and come back with a clean appropriations act with both the removal of all anti-environmental riders and the restoration of full funding to match fiscal year 2016.

Contact your Legislator

Senator Feinstein: DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
and Senator Harris: DC (202) 224-3553, LA (213) 894-5000, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 355-9041, SD (619) 239-3884
Other Rep./Senator Contacts: www.phoneyourrep.com

Background Information on HR 3354 land issues – go as deep as you want.

Thanks to defenders.org for their amazing compilation. More to come.

These items, from #1-14,  are the perverse easter eggs hidden in HR. 3354, just on LAND issues. We’ll be doing wildlife tomorrow.

#1 – Taking away our voice.

Removing this right is so important, it’s been noted twice.

  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3354), Title I – General Provisions, Department of the Interior, Sec. 111
  • Senate Chairman’s Mark, Title IV-General Provisions, Section 111

Sec. 111: Reduce the Public’s Right to Participate in the Management of Public Lands – This provision would require that a prospective plaintiff exhaust all administrative remedies before filing a citizen suit challenging a Bureau of Land Management decision concerning grazing on public lands. One of the foundations for the management of federal lands is the citizen’s right to participate in how public lands are governed, including the right to petition the federal courts when a citizen believes that a federal decision has not adhered to the rule of law. But this provision would severely curtail these rights by delaying opportunities for the public to seek assistance in the federal court system in regard to how Department of the Interior lands are managed.

#2 – Putting private livestock grazing interests over the health of the land.

Important enough to someone to mention twice…

  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3354), Title IV – General Provisions, Section 423
  • Senate Chairman’s Mark, Title IV-General Provisions, Section 422


Sec. 423/422: Continues grazing under certain grazing permits on public lands without any assessment or accounting for current range condition, impacts on wildlife, watersheds and other public values, or complicating factors such as drought or invasive species that may advise a change in management.

#3 – Prevents Federal Land Managers from doing their jobs

  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3354), Title IV – General Provisions, Section 436

Sec. 436: Elevates hunting, fishing and shooting as priority uses on public lands by prohibiting the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management from balancing these activities with other multiple uses of the public domain. Federal law requires these agencies to balance these pursuits with endangered species protection, habitat conservation, commercial development and other recreational activities.

#4 – Again with the cows…Requires vacant grazing allocations be made available without review or public input.

Again, important enough to someone to get this mentioned twice…

  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3354), Title IV – General Provisions, Section 437
  • Senate Chairman’s Mark, Title IV-General Provisions, Section 430

Sec. 437/430: Mandates that even if Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service lands are damaged by drought or wildfire, they must be made available for grazing. By waiving National Environmental Policy Act, the public land use is unjustifiably removed from public scrutiny, input, and accountability.

#5 – Makes Boundary Waters Land in the Superior National Forest available for destuctive mining.

  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3354), Title IV – General Provisions, Section 449 – Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN)

Sec. 449: Blocks the ongoing two-year Forest Service study of mining in the Boundary Waters watershed and make 234,328 acres of public lands and wildlife habitat on Superior National Forest in Northeast Minnesota available for destructive sulfide-ore mining. It would also negate the input 125,000 citizens who have submitted comments during the scoping phase and the more than 3,000 people who participated in the Forest Service – BLM listening sessions.

This is related to Action #3 from yesterday…”Environmental War Crimes – Part 2 – Water” Write in!

This is “BEFORE” the current administration took over….


#6 – Punitive elimination of authority to designate new “National Heritage” areas.

  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3354), Title IV – General Provisions, Section 451 – Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO)

Sec. 451: Colorado’s three existing National Heritage Areas, Cache la Poudre, South Park and Sangre de Cristo, protect a variety of cultural, historic, natural, scenic and recreational resources in partnership with the National Park Service and other state and local partners.  They provide public access to those resources and an enhanced public awareness of their value. This provision would eliminate the authority to establish new NHAs anywhere in the State of Colorado based upon the whim of one member of Congress.

#7 – Open millions of acres of “wilderness quality” lands open to drilling, mining and off-road vehicles.

  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (Senate Chairmen’s Mark) Title I – General Provisions – Dept. of the Interior –  Sec. 112

Sec. 112: Inappropriately and unnecessarily restricts the Secretary of the Interior’s ability to implement Secretarial Order #3310, hindering the BLM’s ability to protect “wilderness quality” but unprotected lands from damaging activities. Secretarial Order  #3310 corrected an earlier policy that severely restricted the BLM’s ability to properly identify and manage lands containing wilderness characteristics to assure that environmentally sensitive areas are unimpaired for future generations.

#8 – Overturns Court of Appeals decision regarding compliance of  federal agencies with EPA protections.

  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (Senate Chairmen’s Mark) Title IV- General Provisions – Dept. of the Interior –  Sec. 431

Sec. 431: Overturns a court decision that federal agencies must coordinate with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) on discretionary federal actions – including land management plans – when a new species is listed, critical habitat is designated, or other new pertinent information on a listed species becomes available. This rider provides a sweeping waiver for activities without ground-disturbing activities, including forest planning activities.

#9 –“It’s back: Failed Yazoo Pump project added to bill by a Senate committee”

  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (Senate Chairmen’s Mark) Title IV- General Provisions – Dept. of the Interior –  Sec. 433

Regulatory Office celebrates Earth Day with cleanup at Steele Bayou Structure

Sec. 433: Reverses the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) veto of the Army Corps of Engineers’ proposed Yazoo Backwater Pumps project in the Mississippi River Delta region and direct the Corps to immediately initiate the project’s construction. This agricultural drainage project will drain and damage up to 200,000 acres of ecologically rich wetlands—an area larger than all 5 boroughs of New York City—in the Mississippi Delta. The wetlands that will be destroyed, including bottomland hardwood forests, are among the richest areas of waterfowl habitat and biological diversity in North America.

Reading: It was a bad idea to start with. (Scientific American)(mississippimatters)

#10 – Wildfire disaster funding mixed with environmental rollbacks for forest management.

  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (Senate Chairmen’s Mark) Title V- Wildfire Disaster Funding –  Sec. 501

Sec. 501: Wildfire Disaster Funding – The Wildfire funding language provides access to disaster funding and minimizes transfers. It does not address the erosion to all forest programs from the increasing impact of firefighting costs (known as the growing ten-year average). Specifically, the bill calls only for Wildfire suppression expenditures in excess of 100 percent of the rolling ten-year average to qualify for disaster funding through a disaster cap adjustment which is capped at $2 billion. After that, the Secretary is required to request any levels beyond what is appropriated and/or above the capped level, or revert to transferring funds from non-suppression accounts. The language is also problematic because instead of a clean fire funding fix, it is paired with environmental rollbacks for forest management as detailed below.

#11 – Undermine National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (Senate Chairmen’s Mark) Title V- Wildfire Disaster Funding –  Sec. 505

Sec. 505: Limits NEPA environmental analysis consideration of alternatives to action (the proposed forest management activity) or no action. This “take it or leave it” approach precludes NEPA  normal decision-making process of diligently evaluating and publicly disclosing potential harm from a range of program and project alternatives and threatens the public’s ability to engage in the development of projects.

#12 – Undermine management of the Tongass National Forest and ignore public input.

  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (Senate Chairmen’s Mark) Title V- Wildfire Disaster Funding –  Sec. 508

Sec. 508: Another Sen. Murkowski special that rolls back the 2016 Land Management Plan amendment for the Tongass National Forest in Alaska, which moved to stop the practice of industrial clear-cutting of old-growth timber, which in turn supports the region’s sustainable industries (fisheries, tourism) that rely on intact forests and watersheds. This rider allows  old-growth clear-cutting to continue until a new study of the timber viability of all young growth stands in the Tongass is completed. The 2016 plan amendment was finalized after extensive public comment – including endorsement by the Tongass Advisory Committee, a group of diverse local interests including the timber industry and the State of Alaska.

Reading: America’s Rainforest Under Threat: How Alaska’s Tongas National Forest needs your help. (wilderness society) Murkowski has been circling this place since 2009 and was stopped before. Now a GOP-dominated Congress allows for destruction of this amazing place.

#13 – Exempts Alaska from Landmark Forest Conservation Rule
  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (Senate Chairmen’s Mark) Title V- Wildfire Disaster Funding –  Sec. 509

Sec. 509: Murkowski strikes again! This rider exempts Alaska from the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule (“Roadless Rule”), one of the most significant forest conservation measures of the last century that protects nearly 50 million acres of wild national forest lands nationwide from logging and new logging roads. Scientific evidence has demonstrated that undeveloped roadless areas are essential to the health of Southeast Alaska’s extraordinary salmon runs and important to the subsistence practices of Alaska Natives.  On Sept. 21, 2017, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia struck down the state of Alaska’s latest attempt to seek an exemption to the rule. The Roadless Rule continues to be enormously popular nationwide, winning support from millions of Americans when originally proposed 16 years ago and again later when threatened with rollback.

#14 – Red Cliffs National Conservation area

  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (Senate Chairmen’s Mark) Title V- Wildfire Disaster Funding – In Senate Interior Appropriations Committee Explanatory Statement –  1)

1) Directs the BLM to promote the issuance and development of a northern corridor right- of-way in Washington County, Utah and arguably, through the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area. It contradicts an important piece of the Washington County Growth and Conservation Act in the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009. It also would have direct impacts to the federally-listed desert tortoise, sensitive cultural resources, recreation and other resources that the National Conservation Area was established to protect.

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