Oil industry lobbyists have made eliminating the “BLM methane waste rule” a top priority since Congress went back to work in 2017. The industry, which spent over $100 million supporting candidates for federal office in 2016, is now expecting politicians to fall in line and vote to scrap a rule whose stated purpose is to limit the waste of taxpayer-owned natural gas from energy operations on American public lands.

A bill to nix the common sense standards has already passed the House of Representatives, but has been stuck in the U.S. Senate for weeks without the votes to pass. Now, the pressure campaign from oil and gas industry lobbyists, including groups like the American Petroleum Institute and the Western Energy Alliance, is ramping up.

(more…)

Written by on Monday, April 24th, 2017

David Bernhardt, one of President Trump’s leading candidates for a top job at the Interior Department, has a long history of making money off of sketchy clients, ranging from a Ukranian-Russian-American oligarch’s oil conglomerate to a company looking to drain an aquifer underneath the California desert. Now Bernhardt is poised to cash in on a long list of conflicts of interest if he returns to the public sector.

Bernhardt is reported to be on the short list of candidates for Deputy Interior Secretary, the department that oversees America’s national parks and public lands. Bernhardt was the head of President Trump’s transition team at Interior, and now he’s angling for a position that would put him in charge of some of the most high-profile decisions made by the agency over the coming years. (more…)

Written by on Friday, April 21st, 2017

In this episode of Go West, Young Podcast, Congressman Raúl Grijalva, ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, talks about President Trump’s executive order gutting climate protections, and which issues he hopes to work with Republicans on in the coming months.

Host/producer: Aaron Weiss
Feedback: podcast@westernpriorities.org
Music: Purple Planet

Written by on Thursday, March 30th, 2017

In 2016, oil and gas companies reported more than 1,300 spills in New Mexico.

According to publicly available data from the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division, there were 1,310 reported spills in New Mexico in 2016, an 11 percent decrease from the previous year. The vast majority of spills, 83 percent, took place in Lea and Eddy Counties.

(more…)

Written by on Thursday, March 30th, 2017

Corporate giveaway won’t bring coal back

Today President Trump signed an executive order to demolish climate and energy policies set by the previous administration — eliminating some altogether and instructing regulators to rewrite key rules related to energy development. While the focus of the executive order is dismantling the Clean Power Plan, two provisions will particularly impact Western states and taxpayers across the country — lifting the temporary moratorium on federal coal leasing and rewriting rules designed to limit methane waste during natural gas production.

Oil, natural gas, and coal provide an important source of revenue to American taxpayers. For example, 40 percent of all coal mined in the United States is mined on federal land. Similarly, production on federal land accounts for 5 percent of the nation’s oil supply, along with 11 percent of our natural gas supply. In years past, an antiquated system of policies ensured oil, gas and coal companies received sweetheart deals for resource extraction, while taxpayers were consistently shortchanged. The Obama administration established several new rules to ensure taxpayers receive a fair share from energy development on public lands. Unfortunately, two of those rules stand to be erased under Trump’s new order.

(more…)

Written by on Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

This episode of Go West, Young Podcast is a wide-ranging conversation with Professor Mark Squillace, director of the Natural Resources Law Center at the University of Colorado law School.

Squillace first weighs in on whether President Trump has the authority to erase or shrink a national monument, then he debunks all of the legal theories espoused by extremists who claim the federal government has no constitutional authority to own public land.

We conclude with a discussion about Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, and the threat posed by the REINS act, which would turn Congress into regulatory micro-managers.

  • This Week in Western History: The birthday of soldier, scientist, and explorer John Wesley Powell

Producer/Host: Aaron Weiss

Feedback: podcast@westernpriorities.org

Music by Purple Planet

Written by on Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

Our guest in this episode of Go West, Young Podcast is Ron Hunter, Patagonia’s Environmental Activism Manager.

Read more about Patagonia’s 360-degree Bears Ears experience from Mashable and FastCo Create.


Subscribe: iTunes | Google PlayStitcher | TuneIn

Host & producer: Aaron Weiss

Music: Purple Planet

Written by on Monday, March 13th, 2017

President Trump’s administration is looking to take a hacksaw to the Department of the Interior’s budget and the incoming Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is “not happy” about it.

According to reports from E&E News, the new administration is looking to cut 10 percent from Interior’s annual budget, which translates into a $1.3 billion reduction from last year’s $13.3 billion budget. The Interior Department — which is already spread razor thin — does everything from overseeing America’s parks and managing endangered wildlife to balancing the multiple critical uses of the more than 500 million acres of American-owned lands.

(more…)

Written by on Friday, March 3rd, 2017

Utah politicians are asking Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and President Trump to rescind Bears Ears National Monument—a move that would be both unprecedented and probably illegal. Zinke has a choice: Will he follow in Teddy Roosevelt’s footsteps, or will he join Utah’s attacks on our parks and public lands?

It’s time for Ryan Zinke to ask himself one simple question: What would Teddy do?

Teddy Roosevelt would stand with Bears Ears.

(more…)

Written by on Friday, March 3rd, 2017

It’s the end of the line — after good-faith negotiations with Utah Governor Gary Herbert, the Outdoor Retailer trade show is leaving Utah in response to the state’s anti-public lands policies.

Yesterday, Gov. Herbert met with the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) and industry leaders Patagonia, REI, and The North Face to discuss the future of the trade show. In what began as an op-ed written by Black Diamond co-founder Peter Metcalf, the pressure grew to over 30 outdoor industry leaders “publicly and emphatically” urging Outdoor Retailer to leave Utah if the show’s longtime home failed to make a course correction on its extreme positions on American public lands.

In the meeting, OIA requested that the governor end efforts to transfer federal lands to the state, nullify the Antiquities Act, and undo Bears Ears National Monument. Instead, OIA asked the governor to “embrace and actively support the outdoor recreation economy’s role in the state by supporting the public lands that provide the backbone of the industry’s sales.”

(more…)

Written by on Friday, March 3rd, 2017

Today's Latest

America’s monuments under attack

Today, President Trump will sign an executive order launching a review of national monuments over 100,000 acres. The review will target 24 monuments designated in the past two decades…

April 26th, 2017

Outdoor economy climbs to new heights

According to a new report released today by the the Outdoor Industry Association, the outdoor recreation economy accounts for $887 billion in consumer spending each year and 7.6 million American jobs…

April 25th, 2017

The money behind the votes

A new analysis from the Center for Western Priorities finds the 17 politicians sponsoring legislation to kill the Bureau of Land Management’s methane waste rule have received contributions totaling nearly $17 million from oil and gas interests…

April 24th, 2017

Protected public lands are part of our Western heritage and deserve bipartisan support. @WstrnPriorities