Tag Archives: Bureau of Land Management

BLM Replaces Mountain Landscape Photo With Coal Seam On Home Page


The 800-mile Trans-Alaska Pipeline runs alongside the Gulkana River.

April 6, 20177:06 PM ET

Kirk Siegler - Square 2016

Kirk Siegler

Twitter

A quiet change to the website photo banner of a relatively obscure federal agency is causing a bit of an outsize stir on social media.

On the top of its home page, the Bureau of Land Management, which manages more than 200 million acres of public land under the U.S. Department of the Interior, swapped out a photo of a young boy and his companion backpacking across a mountain meadow in favor of one showing a massive coal seam at a mine in Wyoming.

Above:  A cached version of BLM.gov from March 25 shows the Bureau of Land Management’s home page previously featured a photo of a young boy and his companion overlooking a scenic landscape. Bureau of Land Management via Internet Archive/Screenshot by NPR

Above:  A screenshot of the Bureau of Land Management’s home page displays a photo of a “large coal seam at the Peabody North Antelope Rochelle Mine in Wyoming.” Bureau of Land Management/Screenshot by NPR

The agency’s mission is, after all, to manage federal land for multiple uses — which range from hiking trails along scenic vistas and in remote deserts to oil and gas fields and, yes, coal seams.

But on Twitter, environmentalists — along with some satirists — were quick to pounce on the symbolism. The Trump administration hasn’t exactly been shy about its plans to increase fossil fuel development on federal land.

The BLM is downplaying the latest Twittersphere uproar.

More than anything else, spokesman Jeff Krauss tells NPR, the change in home page photos is due to an IT redesign that will once again allow different photos to be rotated through that reflect the agency’s multiple-use mission. That used to be standard practice until recently, Krauss says.

Despite its low-profile status when compared with other DOI agencies like the National Park Service, the BLM has long been a favorite political target from both sides of the aisle. During the George W. Bush administration, for instance, conservation groups criticized — and sued — the agency for approving a rapid expansion of drilling on public lands. Later, under President Barack Obama, mining groups accused the agency of being too restrictive, and Western ranchers led by Cliven Bundy even led armed standoffs against the agency, protesting its authority to control Western lands.

For sure, the stakes are high when it comes to the BLM and the American public’s land, which might explain why a seemingly simple photo change ignited as much controversy as it did in this hyperpartisan political climate.

Things will probably quiet down Friday, when the agency plans to swap out the coal photo for one reflecting the BLM’s recreation programs.

Or will they?

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Trump Just Made The Biggest Sale Of Drilling Rights On Federal Land In 4 Years


The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) made its largest lease sale in four years, marking the start of President Donald Trump’s plans to expand drilling on federal lands.

BLM sold drilling rights on 278 parcels of public land for $129.3 million. Bids ranged from $2 per acre to $16,500 per acre. The land sold was mostly located in Wyoming — about half of which is directly controlled by the federal government.

“In the first lease sale under the Trump administration, the BLM had its biggest sale in the past four years,” Utah Republican Rob Bishop, chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Today’s successful sale in part is a recognition that the BLM under new leadership will prioritize fulfilling its statutory mandate of multiple-use land management and the holding of quarterly lease sales, and the industry is responding accordingly.”

Thursday’s lease sale is one of four BLM has planned for this year.

“This is an encouraging indication that we are headed in a new and better direction for the Bureau and Americans who benefit from greater access to these taxpayer-owned resources,” Bishop said.

Congress wants to rollback energy regulations for pubic lands. Lawmakers have already used the Congressional Review Act to repeal Obama-era regulations on coal mining and are looking to eliminate a regulation on flaring natural gas. Congress also wants to repeal a BLM rule, called “Planning 2.0,” which critics say seizes power from local officials and makes energy development more difficult.

Rolling back federal restrictions on public lands would create 2.7 million jobs and add $663 billion to the economy each year for the next 30 years, according to a 2016 study by Louisiana State University and the free-market Institute for Energy Research.

Opening these lands and waters could boost wages by $5.1 trillion, generating $3.9 trillion in new federal tax revenue over the next 37 years according to the research. Increased energy development could create 2.7 million new jobs.

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