Most Policy Changes Favoring Mining And Drilling Are Approved By Trump’s Department of Interior

Jul 9, 2019
Originally published on July 9, 2019 4:21 pm

President Trump is touting his environmental achievements this week. But some environmental advocacy groups are not impressed. 

The Center for Western Priorities just released a new study that shows the administration has been almost unanimously approving de-regulatory policy changes requested or supported by mining and drilling groups. 

Jesse Prentice-Dunn with the non-profit, said “the Interior Department put out a literal call to the industry and the public and said please help us identify policies that you think burden energy production so that we can roll those back.”

Prentice-Dunn said they did just that. Of 53 policy change requests since Trump took office, the study shows the Department of Interior has already completed or is reviewing 48 of them. 

Prentice-Dunn said the changes have withdrawn wildlife protection on public lands, weakened environmental reviews and rescinded policies aimed at mitigating the impacts of climate change.  

"This is really a concerted effort to rip out conservation policies by the root," said Prentice-Dunn. "I mean going from the top level regulations all the way down to agency handbooks. This is trying to deconstruct what has been built over decades, not just tinker around the edges."

But industry still has to comply with state regulations and those can be more narrow. Eric Carlson with the Colorado Oil and Gas Association of the West Slope said because of Colorado’s strict new oil and gas laws, he’s not getting any reprieves. “It’s getting to be a tighter regulatory environment in which to work,” he said.

The Department of Interior responded to the report with a statement saying, “under President Trump’s common sense leadership, every day at Interior we are increasing access to our public lands, increasing recreational opportunities on those public lands, and enhancing our conservation efforts.”

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

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