Part 2 of the above.
Department of Interior: Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
1. End Rule-Making to Revise Endangered Species Act (ESA)
Pull the Department of Interior's proposal to revise ESA Section 7 Rule.
Rationale: Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne's proposed regulations would eliminate one of the ESA's most fundamental provisions; the requirement for independent scientific reviews of any project that could harm an endangered species living on federal land. Under current rules, federal agencies are required to submit their plans to either the FWS or the National Marine Fisheries Service, giving scientists at those agencies the right to say no to any project or, as is most often the case, to require modifications if the project threatens an endangered species. This proposal would effectively remove these agencies, whose job is to oversee the ESA, from the process.
2. Reinstate Protections for Mature and Old-Growth Habitat, Water and Salmon Under the Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP)
Issue a supplemental Final Environment Impact Statement and Record of Decision, rescinding the BLM's Western Oregon Plan Revision (WOPR) and reaffirming implementation of the Northwest Forest Plan to ensure compliance with the ESA and the Clean Water Act and other applicable federal laws.
Stop implementation of the Final Northern Spotted Owl Critical Habitat designation and related final Northern Spotted Owl Recovery Plan and revise them in response to the scientific peer review ignored by the FWS, particularly direct FWS to use the NWFP late-successional reserves as a habitat baseline for owl recovery as recommended by peer review. During this process, continue to implement the NWFP and Northern Spotted Owl Recovery Action 32 to maintain all older and structurally complex conifer forests on federal lands in the range of the northern spotted owl as well as barred owl science efforts.
Use the best available science for the marbled murrelet in the status review and delisting process.
Rationale:Beginning in late 2001, the timber industry mounted an aggressive campaign to increase the amount of timber cut from Northwest federal forests by weakening protections for salmon, clean water, and old-growth forest ecosystems under the Northwest Forest Plan. The Bush administration agreed to the timber industry's 5-point plan to unravel environmental safeguards including eliminating critical habitat in the matrix lands where logging may occur to "significantly expedite timber sales throughout the region," to amend the NWFP to make timber production the dominant use of BLM O&C lands, and to eliminate most old-growth and riparian reserves on such lands. The Northern Spotted Owl Recovery Plan, which failed independent scientific peer review provides up to 56% less habitat in Managed Owl Conservation Areas compared to the Northwest Forest Plan's Late-Successional Reserves (LSRs) because many of the LSRs were excluded from recovery goals and are therefore vulnerable to logging. The BLM WOPR would increase logging of old growth by 436%, build over 1000 miles of roads, and release 180 million tons more carbon to the atmosphere compared to no logging. This is equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions from 1 million cars driven for 132 years.
3. Protect Grand Canyon from Uranium Mining from BLM and Forest Service Proposals
Direct the Secretary of Interior to comply with the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources' Emergency Resolution compelling the Secretary of the Interior (pursuant to Section 204(e) of FLPMA, 43 U.S.C. § 1714(e) and 43 C.F.R. § 2310.5) to immediately withdraw the approximately 1 million acres of federal land near Grand Canyon National Park to protect these lands from uranium mining. The emergency withdrawal is temporary, and can last no more than 3 years.
Reverse Department of Interior's proposed elimination of its regulation, which required the agency to comply with emergency withdrawal resolutions, (43 CFR Part 2300, with a proposed rule issued at 73 Fed. Reg. 60212, Oct. 10, 2008).
Rationale: The government must consider the danger of uranium leaching into the Colorado River, which could poison a source of drinking water for Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. In June, the House Natural Resources Committee issued a withdrawal order, which is allowed under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) for about 1 million acres near the Grand Canyon, including the land the claims were filed on. Now the Department of Interior has proposed scrapping its own rule that puts withdrawal orders from the congressional committees into practice. Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano in March urged Secretary Kempthorne to halt new claims and order a study of uranium mining near the canyon.
4. Bring Back Law at the Border
Immediately reinstate laws, evaluate alternatives to mitigate damage from completed and ongoing construction of the border wall along our border with Mexico, and halt construction pending a comprehensive review of impacts.
Rationale: Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, has waived all environmental laws for construction of walls and roads for 550 miles of the southern border, including wilderness areas, national wildlife refuges, national forests, and national monuments. Construction of roads and barriers along lands managed by the National Park Service and BLM are being built without any environmental laws; damage to resources has already occurred.
5. Strengthen Protections on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Lands
Through Executive Order or directive, issue a moratorium to prohibit logging mature and old-growth forests and large and old trees on BLM lands recognizing the significant role they play in maintaining and increasing forest resiliency against natural disturbances, providing critical habitat and core refugia, regulating water quality and flows, providing crucial genetic diversity and for their significant contribution to carbon sequestration and storage.
Develop comprehensive climate policy for BLM land that shifts management to ecological sustainability. This includes maintaining and restoring intact ecosystems including older forests, and natural processes as appropriate, reducing ecosystem stressors, and protecting the ecosystem services that these lands provide such as clean water, clean air, fish and wildlife habitat, flood protection, carbon storage and sequestration and appropriate recreation opportunities.
Through Executive Order or rule making, strengthen the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) by adding strong wildlife protection standards consistent with the 1982 NFMA viability regulations.
Rationale: The BLM has jurisdiction over 258 million acres of forests, grasslands, sagebrush steppe, deserts and wetlands. The BLM also manages 700 million acres of federal subsurface mineral estate of which most of the acreage is located in the National Forest System, National Wildlife Refuge System and National Park System. The BLM manages its lands primarily for resource extraction. The Bureau's guiding statute, FLPMA has less protection for wildlife than other federal land management agencies. The mismanagement of these lands has earned the Bureau nicknames such as "The Bureau of Livestock and Mining." The BLM's proposal to increase logging of old-growth forests by over 400% is just one example of the Bureau's mismanagement of its land holdings. In addition, BLM lands will be increasingly under pressure from energy development as well as providing sites for alternative forms of energy. As such, basic protection standards for wildlife in these ecosystems need to be established for the BLM.
Additional Actions Items to Begin During the Second 100 Days
1. Protect Public Lands from Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) Damage
Issue a directive to ensure the Travel Planning Process (36 CFR 212):
Prohibits designation of motorized routes in roadless or wilderness study areas during any travel planning processes.
Determines the minimum road system needed for each national forest by completing part A of travel planning which requires that national foreststheir entire road system and identify which roads should be decommissioned and which roads should be retained. In order to meet the projected goals in the agency's 2001 long-term transportation policy and as implementation of part A, ensure that all forests reduce their road systems by at least 25-50%.
Expands enforcement, monitoring, and maintenance capacity of the agency to effectively implement new travel plans.
Rationale: Irresponsible motorized off-road vehicle travel on national forests poses some of the greatest threats to these lands harming streams, disturbing wildlife and damaging cultural sites - especially roadless areas. Recognizing the threat, the 2001 long-term transportation policy envisions the eventual removal of between 140,000-186,000 miles of roads once the minimum road system has been identified for each national forest. In addition, the 2005 travel planning rule mandates an end to almost all cross-country travel by off-road vehicles and requires that all national forests identify which routes are open to motorized use. Prohibiting the designation of ORV routes in roadless areas through a travel management plan directive would add important protection that is not addressed in the current roadless policy. In addition, while the travel planning process is underway, very few national forests have analyzed their road system which is required under part A, nor are most addressing snowmobile use, as required under part C. Identifying the minimum road system needed would enable each national forest to comprehensively plan travel needs, and to restore watershed health and integrity by more effectively implementing the Legacy Roads and Trails Remediation Initiative. Decommissioning roads also creates skilled, high-wage jobs in rural, communities reducing habitat fragmentation and helping to build resiliency into the ecosystem.
2. Repeal Regulations that Weaken Environmental Analysis and Public Participation
Direct the Forest Service to:
Issue a temporary moratorium on: (i) the ability of the Forest Service to use a narrow consideration of the potential loss of "economic value" to declare an "emergency situation" as allowed in the 2003 Bush administration Notice, Comment, and Appeal Procedures for the National Forest System Projects and Activities (NCA regulations), 36 CFR § 215.2; and (ii) the authority in NCA regulations 36 CFR § 215.10 for the Chief to delegate the authority to determine "emergency situations";
Promptly post on the internet: (i) (a) a copy of the legal notice of the decision; b) indication of the date the notice was published; and c) directions to determine when the comments or appeals are due. (ii) Indicate in the notice of decision or request for comments that this information will be posted on the Forest Service's web site. (iii) If a timely appeal is received and an investigation reveals either (i) or (ii) was not complied with, the decision must be withdrawn and proper notice given; and
Begin a new rule-making process to repeal the 2003 NCA regulations and develop new regulations that ensure public participation and fully implement the Appeals Reform Act (ARA) (322, Pub. L. No. 102-381, 106 Stat. 1419 (1992)).
Rationale: The Bush administration's 2003 Notice, Comment and Appeal regulations (NCA regulations, 36 CFR Part 215) to implement the ARA undermine effective public participation and allow the Forest Service to exclude the public from participating in management decisions of national forests. For example by: 1) prohibiting citizens from appealing CEs; and 2) making it extremely difficult for citizens to comment by prohibiting communication of legal notices and other relevant information to be posted on the internet and instead requiring that legal notices be published in local newspapers. These regulations also added the ability for an "emergency situation" determination to be based in whole or in part on "economic value." The proposed moratorium would allow only the Forest Service Chief to determine if an emergency situation exists and reinstate the former practice of only considering "hazards threatening human health and safety or natural resources on those National Forest System or adjacent lands."
Courts have ruled that various provisions of these regulations violate the ARA. On October 8, 2008, the Supreme Court heard the case Summers v Earth Island Institute, No. 07-463. The Supreme Court is considering procedural aspects (standing, ripeness, and appropriateness of a nationwide injunction) of a 9th Circuit ruling that held that parts of the regulations violate the ARA. As the court is addressing procedural issues, the ruling will not negate the need for new regulations.
3. Forest Climate Policy: Require that Climate Change be Considered in National Forest and BLM Management Plans
Require that national forest management plans assess the impacts of climate change on wildlife and forest ecosystems, and incorporate science based strategies to restore natural processes, help wildlife and fish adapt, increase forest resiliency, protect biodiversity, provide flood control, carbon storage and sequestration functions, and appropriate recreation.
Rationale: Anticipated impacts of and appropriate strategies to address climate change should be incorporated into forest plans. Policies to date have largely focused on thinning strategies to reduce hazardous fuels but have not adequately addressed critical adaptation issues such as reducing habitat fragmentation, identifying wildlife migration corridors, improving flood control and hydrological functions, and removing stressors to forests, aquatic and riparian zones.
4. Reverse Weakening of Hardrock Mining Regulations and Policy
Reinstate BLM's hardrock mining regulations (43 CFR Subpart 3809) that were significantly weakened by the Bush administration in 2001 (See 66 Fed. Reg. 54834, Oct. 30, 2001) by issuing a Solicitor/Secretarial legal opinion as the basis for a new regulation.
Reinstate Interior Solicitor and Secretarial Decisions regarding the proper interpretation of the 1872 Mining Law that were overturned by the Bush administration in October 2003 (See 68 Fed. Reg. 61046, Oct. 24, 2003) by issuing Solicitor/Secretarial legal opinions as the basis for new regulations.
Suspend the BLM's proposed rule (72 Fed. Reg. 8139, Feb. 23, 2007) that would circumvent the federal court order in Mineral Policy Center v. Norton (292 F.Supp.2d 30, D.D.C. 2003) requiring the BLM to obtain "fair market value" for mining operations conducted on public lands for which the validity of mining claims had not been verified.
Rationale: In the West, more than 40 percent of all headwater streams are impacted, in one fashion or another, by abandoned mine runoff. Sadly, mining is still conducted on public lands today and governed by the archaic 1872 Mining Act, which gives the mining industry priority status among public land users, requires mining interests to pay nothing in royalties on the commodities they pull from the ground, and doesn't do enough to require mining companies to clean up their messes, which are poisoning streams, driving big game away and impacting downstream water users. In October 2001, the Bush administration substantially weakened the BLM's ability to prevent significant environmental harm from mining operations. In a series of Solicitor and Secretarial decisions, Secretary Babbitt and Solicitor John Leshy under the Clinton administration had corrected long-standing BLM misinterpretations of the Mining Law, most notably regarding the limitations on the use of "millsite" claims (See M-36988, Nov. 7, 1997). On October 7, 2003, Interior Secretary Norton rescinded the Babbitt Memorandum, reinterpreting the Mining Law to allow the claiming of essentially unlimited lands for waste dumps and processing facilities as millsites (See 68 Fed. Reg. 61046, Oct. 24, 2003).
Additionally, the Interior Department interpreted other provisions of the Mining Law to strengthen the "rights" of mining claimants at the expense of public resources. On November 14, 2005 (M-37011), Secretary Norton rescinded the January 18, 2001 Decision that had recognized the BLM's responsibilities to inquire into the validity of mining claims prior to the approval of mining operations ("Ancillary Use Opinion", M-37004, Jan. 18, 2001). Secretary Norton issued her own decision stating that BLM and the Forest Service were not to inquire into claim validity when reviewing mining proposals on non-withdrawn lands across the West (M-37012, Nov. 14, 2005). Lastly, BLM has issued a proposed rule (72 Fed. Reg. 8139, Feb. 23, 2007), which attempts to circumvent the federal court order in Mineral Policy Center v. Norton (292 F.Supp.2d 30, D.D.C. 2003), which had required BLM to obtain "fair market value" for mining operations conducted on public lands for which the validity of mining claims had not been verified. The final rule has yet to be promulgated.