BLM Requests Input for Future Planning Efforts and Environmental Reviews
Agency Committed to Working Closely with Government Partner and Communities –
Wednesday, July 5, 2017 – On July 3, 2017, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Acting Director Michael Nedd issued a request for ideas and input on how the agency can increase its responsiveness to local needs and improve its planning and environmental review processes to make them timelier and less costly. The effort comes on the heels of the congressional disapproval of the BLM’s Planning 2.0 rule.
The BLM is already working with state and local government elected officials and groups, including the Western Governors Association and the National Association of Counties. Director Nedd said, “We are doing this because Secretary Zinke and President Trump both strongly believe that public engagement, especially at the local level, is a critical component of federal land management. We need and want input from our state and local partners as well as from the general public in this effort.”
The agency’s goal is to identify inefficiencies and redundancies that should be eliminated from their land use planning and NEPA processes, while ensuring that the BLM fulfills its legal and resource stewardship responsibilities. The effort is not required by any law or regulation, but the bureau is doing it because it believes strongly that public input, particularly from the local level, is an essential component of federal land management.
Proposed Rule Would Rescind the Obama Administration’s WOTUS Definition –
Tuesday, June 27, 2017 – Pursuant to a joint EPA and Department of Defense February 2017 notice of intent, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt signed a proposed rule on June 27, 2017 that would repeal the Obama administration’s contentious rule defining “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) released the proposed rule ahead of its being published in the Federal Register.
The proposed rule is the first of a two-step process to repeal and replaced the current WOTUS definition. It would repeal the current definition and replace it with the previous version that was put in place in 1986. EPA and USACE have already begun working on a new definition that is based on a 2006 U.S. Supreme Court opinion written by Justice Anontin Scalia.
The move was met with expressions of support from Republican lawmakers, industry and business leaders, who intend to continue working with the administration as it works to develop commonsense ways to keep the nation’s waters clean and safe, while lessening federal intrusion into local prerogatives.
Democrats and environmental nongovernmental organizations expressed dismay, claiming the administration is playing politics with the nation’s waters.
KNRC Makes Executive Branch Reorganization Recommendations –
Monday, June 12, 2017 — In culmination of a months-long collaborative effort, the Kansas Natural Resource Coalition provided more than 130 well-founded recommendations in 23 separate issue categories to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget as part of his effort to develop a comprehensive plan for reorganizing the federal executive branch. The plan is being developed in response to Executive Order 13781.
EO 13781 requires the OMB director to include recommendations to eliminate unnecessary agencies, components of agencies, and agency programs, and to merge functions. The plan will also include recommendations for any legislation or administrative measures necessary to achieve the proposed reorganization.
The KNRC team focused primarily on issues that impact Kansans in one way or another. Many of the recommendations are designed to bring control over those issues back to the most local level possible, so that local government can better support the interests of our citizens and local economies.
In an interesting departure from more commonly used practice, recommendations from the public, including local government, the order required that the OMB director’s 180-day window for developing the plan was to begin after the comment period had closed. The executive branch departments, agencies and other offices are preparing their reorganization plans, which are due in to the OMB director 180 days after EO 13781’s March 13, 2017 effective date.