“Tracking Biden’s environmental actions”

The Washington Post has put together a “scorecard” for “environmental actions” to be taken by the Biden Administration to reverse over 200 Trump policies in seven categories, sorted by how hard they would be to overturn.  Those marked by dark orange are already “overturned,” those in lighter orange are “targeted,” and the rest “not yet targeted.”  Overall, 8 have been overturned, 60 have been targeted, and 139 are not yet targeted.  Here’s the categories and total amounts.

Air pollution and greenhouse gases (64)

Chemical safety (14)

Drilling and extraction (61)

Infrastructure and permitting (26)

Transparency (2)

Water pollution (13)

Wildlife (27)

Public land management may be affected by actions in several of these categories, but “Drilling and extraction” includes logging, so I’ve copied some of that list above.  Among the priority actions (overturned or targeted) include Utah national monuments, timber harvesting on BLM lands, the protest process for federal timber sales, the Tongass roadless rule, and fracking rules.  Also, in the “wildlife” category, ESA critical habitat designation, spotted owl critical habitat and Endangered Species Act consultation have been targeted.   Not yet targeted include many things we have discussed on this blog, such as:  the Eastside Screens old growth plan amendment, the executive order encouraging logging on federal lands, sage grouse protection, Twin Metals mine leases near Boundary Waters, the Tonto NF copper mine, Forest Service NEPA regulations, and CEQ NEPA regulations.  It’s also interesting to note the number of these that are “under litigation,” which may also provide leverage to undo Trump actions.

I hope this is something they will continue to update with successes and failures and new targetings.

6 thoughts on ““Tracking Biden’s environmental actions””

  1. Just want to say sometimes just because a regulation was worked on during a certain administration doesn’t mean it is bad. The USFS locatable minerals regulations are almost 50 years old and need to be revised. The revision that would have been proposed adds a lot of protective measures for the environment and tools to better control noncompliance or unexpected environmental problems. I think the revision is long overdue. I hope if the proposed revision is released in the next year folks take a good look at all the improvements over the current regulations.

    • Much of the rank and file of the USFS would like to eliminate politics from the Agency. However, we all know that will remain impossible. I’m sure that some do ‘protest’ the political decisions imposed on them from far above. (Similarly, some resist change from not so far above 😉 )

      Changing diameter limits in the Sierra Nevada down to 20″ was a game-changer, at the end of the Clinton Administration. My bosses called it a “trainwreck”, and timber staffs would be reduced to bare bones. It took 4 years to change the diameter limits back to the original recommended CASPO numbers.

      My last year working for the Forest Service was as a timbermarker. Our District Ranger directed us to mark trees larger than the 30″ limit, based on the recommendations of GTR-220. He insisted that he had the science to ignore what was in the current Sierra Nevada Plan. We were directed to cut large diameter conifers if they were crowding a viable oak tree. Now, I KNEW that was a wrong thing to do, so I refrained from marking those. Eventually, the Forest Supervisor and the Forest TMO convinced the District Ranger to comply with the rules. We had to walk through a bunch of units to black-out the ‘oversized’ trees. The DR asked me, point blank, how many large trees I marked. I had to tell him, “Not many”. He did not like that.

      • Thanks for that, Larry (an example of why some people don’t trust the Forest Service). It does bring up that forest planning question about “one size fits all” plan decisions, “adaptive management” and what is the role of science. They could have written a decision that made an exception for “conifers crowding a viable oak tree,” but since they didn’t we have to conclude that they decided that big pines are more important than viable oaks. Science doesn’t overrule decisions. (That lack of trust may also suggest that the ranger’s real reason might have been the board feet and dollars those big trees provide.)

        • It helped that me, a lowly Temporary timber guy, knew the Forest Supervisor and the Forest TMO from previous employment, I knew they would eventually order him to drop that idea. However, I think they wanted to convince the District Ranger to change back to the plan on his own. Sure, the action might have gone unnoticed but, the risk of litigation and embarrassment wasn’t worth the extra volume. The District Ranger wasn’t a timber guy but, he felt he could have ‘greener shorts’ to advance his career.

          I felt that the large trees and the oaks could co-exist just fine. Not every oak has to be ‘enhanced’, sacrificing old growth trees. We did pick and pluck some conifers growing near oaks but, mostly trees around 20″.

          The 30″ diameter limit is pretty solid, in my mind. I would also think that might be a trigger point for activists. I do think there should be some conditions where you could cut a larger tree. Maybe even providing documentation for why each tree should be cut, too. Unfortunately, some of that decision-making is hard to teach to ‘regular folks’ who wield a paintgun.

    • The fact that the Trump Administration did not make this a priority to finish before the end of his term is a clue that it might not be a bad thing. I hope we’ll discuss it here at some point, Nancy.

  2. I agree with Nancy, in fact I think we should call out those “Trump decisions that don’t need overturning”. One of mine would be the FS NEPA regs.


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