The Interior Department’s deregulatory agenda

The actions taken by Zinke’s Interior Department have different levels of legal permanence.

 

Many of the Trump Interior Department policies were either pushed through administratively, and can be easily overturned by a new administration, or have yet to become final rules. Below are influential policies sorted by their legal status.


Final Rules
: These rules can be challenged in court, but unless they are overturned they must go through a lengthy and public rulemaking process to be reversed.

Methane waste prevention rule

This rule withdrew a 2016 regulation that limited flaring of methane and other emissions from oil and gas operations on public land.

Hydraulic fracturing on federal and Indian lands

This rule withdraws compliance requirements for fracking operations intended to protect groundwater.

Revocation of mitigation policies regarding: endangered species, habitat

These rules override policies that required extractive industries using public land to mitigate their impact on endangered species and habitats by protecting habitat elsewhere.


Proposed Rules:
These rules are currently being proposed by the Interior Department but have not been finalized.

Freedom of Information Act Regulations

This rule would make it harder for journalists and other watchdogs to obtain documents under the Freedom of Information Act. The commenting period, which began under the partial government shutdown, ends Jan. 28.

Hunting and Trapping in Alaska's National Preserves

This rule would remove restrictions on certain hunting and trapping practices, like bear baiting and shooting animals from boats, on preserves operated by the National Park Service in Alaska.

Revision of regulations regarding endangered and threatened wildlife and plants: critical habitat, threatened species, conservation costs

This package of three rules limits the authority of agencies to designate critical habitat, lessens habitat protection requirements for threatened species, and takes out agency guidance that forbids agencies from considering the economic costs of species conservation.


Secretarial Orders and Instruction Memoranda: These orders and policy directions can be reversed or overruled at any time by the current administration or on day one of a new administration.

Revocation of USFW lead ammo ban

This order, signed on Zinke’s first day as Interior Department Secretary, overturned a ban on the use of lead ammunition on Fish and Wildlife Service land and waters.

Greater Sage Grouse Conservation Plans

This order replaced the 2015 greater sage grouse plans with one that reduces habitat protections for the iconic birds of the Western high desert. The rewrite is likely to face multiple legal challenges.

Streamlining National Environmental Policy Act Reviews

This order sought to limit the length and scope of environmental reviews of projects that impact federal land.

Oil and Gas Leasing Reform

This policy sought to shorten the commenting time period for oil and gas lease protests. An Idaho judge issued a preliminary injunction on the rule in October delaying leases on more than 1 million acres of oil and gas leases in sage grouse habitat.

Carl Segerstrom is a contributing editor at High Country News, covering Alaska, the Pacific Northwest and the Northern Rockies from Spokane, Washington.  Email him at [email protected] or submit a letter to the editor

Return to:

Zinke leaves unfinished business at the Interior Department
High Country News Classifieds
  • COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER
    San Juan Citizens Alliance, a leading grassroots conservation advocacy organization for over 30 years, seeks a passionate, dynamic, organized, and technology-savvy communications professional to help...
  • OPERATIONS AND FINANCE MANAGER
    Great Old Broads for Wilderness, a national grassroots organization led by women, seeks a resourceful, self-motivated, team player to serve as Operations and Finance Manager....
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    ORGANIZATIONAL BACKGROUND Colorado Canyons Association (CCA) fosters community stewardship, education and awareness of our National Conservation Lands with a focus on Dominguez-Escalante, Gunnison Gorge and...
  • WYOMING STATE DIRECTOR
    Save the World ... or at least a piece of it! Join The Nature Conservancy and make a tangible and lasting impact by creating a...
  • PROGRAM DIRECTOR FOR AN ENVIRONMENTAL ADVOCACY NON-PROFIT NEAR YOSEMITE
    Demanding, but rewarding, advocacy work on forest, water, wildland, and wildlife issues. Applicants should have experience dealing with land management planning, public speaking, grassroots organizing,...
  • NEW AGRARIAN APPRENTICESHIP
    Quivira Coalition's 2020 New Agrarian Apprenticeships in Regenerative Ranching and Farming -Apprenticeships run 4/20 - 11/20 Applications accepted 10/15/19 - 12/1/19 NAP partners with skilled...
  • PHILANTHROPY DIRECTOR AT WILDERNESS WORKSHOP
    Wilderness Workshop seeks a full time Philanthropy Director to raise funds for our team. Learn more: www.wildernessworkshop.org
  • EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT WITH WESTERN RESOURCE ADVOCATES
    Western Resource Advocates (WRA) seeks an enthusiastic and organized problem solver to join our growing team as an Executive Assistant. The Executive Assistant is instrumental...
  • WYOMING OUTDOOR COUNCIL
    Two positions: Development Director OR Development Writer, Communications Director. Full job descriptions at https://wyomingoutdoorcouncil.org/careers.
  • CONSERVATION PROJECT MANAGER
    Great Land Trust seeks to hire a Conservation Project Manager. Position is full-time, based in Anchorage, Alaska. First review of applications will be on October...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Eagle Valley Land Trust Executive Director Position Description Summary of Position: The Executive Director, working with and reporting to the Board of Directors, has overall...
  • FINANCE & LOGISTICS COORDINATOR
    The Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, founded in 1928 as an independent nonprofit organization, is a biological field station located near Crested Butte, Colorado. Our primary...
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    See Full Job Description
  • DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR
    Position: Development Coordinator Responsible to: Executive Director Time Commitment: 15-20 hours per week, or as otherwise agreed upon General Description: The Development Coordinator assists the...
  • EDUCATION CENTER MANAGER
    Friends of Cedar Mesa seeks a full-time Education Manager for the Bears Ears Education Center to provide day to day operational and administrative oversight. See...
  • TROUT UNLIMITED SCP SOUTHWEST REGIONAL DIRECTOR
    Seeking to hire an experienced advocate/manager to oversee the organization's sportsmen/women-driven advocacy in Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. Open until filled
  • PROGRAM MANAGER
    for northern AZ collaborative conservation ranchlands group
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Partners are seeking an experienced and energetic Executive Director who is excited about the opportunity to lead our growing organization! A full description of the...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    High Country News Seeks an Executive Director to advance its mission, grow its audience and influence, and strategically and sustainably guide the organization through a...
  • 2 PROPERTIES ON THE WESTERN EDGE OF THE GILA WILDERNESS
    Organic farm, hot springs, San Francisco River runs through both. [email protected]