Many thanks to Jon for bringing up the Rock Springs RMP. There are many interesting things about it. In this post, I’ll focus on what appears to be a breakdown in the FLPMA and associated regulations for coordination with the State. In the next post, I’ll focus on impacts to communities and employees. I don’t know a bunch about the BLM but did participate in a Governor’s Office Review (with Harris Sherman, then DNR Director in Colorado) of the ill-fated joint BLM/FS San Juan plan. It seemed to me that it indeed was a useful exercise. So I was surprised when I took a look at the Governor’s letter on the proposed RMP:
in this case, Governor Gordon of Wyoming seems to have been blindsided:
More to the point, this draft does not accurately reflect the 12-year cooperative process undertaken during my entire time in office as Governor and as State Treasurer, three presidential administrations, a multitude of public meetings, cooperating agency input, technological and scientific advancements, and millions of taxpayer dollars. So, it is completely incomprehensible that the BLM selected for its Agency Preferred Alternative, Alternative B, one considered an outlier in previous attempts at issuing an RMP one that was meant to serve initially as a bookend – an alternative with the most resource use restrictions and concomitantly with the largest socioeconomic impacts. Over a decade’s worth of contributions from local stakeholders, cooperators, counties, and state agencies are either falling on deaf ears or disingenuously being thrown by the wayside with this decision.
The Agency’s actions here are contrary to that intent. One is left to assume that that partnership was found to be less valuable than playing to some other audience than those most affected by the people and the ecology these decisions would most impact. It is a shame that evidently little heed was paid to the wishes of local communities. The release of this draft is the first instance the public has to review the BLM’s proposal, and it has completely blindsided those involved, those who care most about the place. The release of this draft places a 90-day burden on the shoulders of those who live, work, and recreate here to understand and respond to this outlandish Preferred Alternative. The trust that has so painstakingly been earned over years of cooperation has been tested severely.
Why did that happen? According to a source.
FLPMA is replete with directions to BLM to cooperate with states. See e.g. 43 U.S.C. § 1712 (a)(9) (planning), § 1716 (exchanges) and § 1720 (conveyances). FLPMA also provides an opportunity before the Final RMP for the Governor’s Consistency Review – is the RMP consistent with state and local land use plans. The late Governor Richardson was successful in redirecting a BLM plan through that process and a lawsuit.
The existing BLM regulation requires cooperating agency status to be offered to State, Tribal and local governments during land use planning and current Department NEPA rules require the same for all Department Environmental Impact Statements. See BLM, Cooperating Agency Deskbook (2012) p. 2 (“The BLM amended its planning regulations in 2005 to ensure that it engages its government partners consistently and effectively through the CA relationship whenever land use plans are prepared or revised. In 2008, the Department of the Interior (DOI) applied this policy to the preparation of all EISs.
So all those requirements were .. ignored? And a trusted source reported that they had spoken with an ENGO who said that they were “shocked and delighted” that they had been given whatever they wanted on the RMP. Perhaps this is less about rewarding your friend NGO’s than punishing your enemy States who don’t vote the way the Admin prefers… despite legal requirements to work with them. I am not a fan of the ship of federalism, which has served us well, foundering on the shoals of political partisanship.
Next post: Concerns for EJ, communities and employees.