by Greg Walcher, E&E Legal Senior Policy Fellow
As appearing in the Daily Sentinel
Last week we mentioned the Biden administration’s “Investing in America Agenda,” and how the Interior Department is spending $44 million of its windfall share of the recent massive spending bills. It is ironic, to say the most, to call government spending “investment,” when all it really amounts to is more employees, more offices, more reports, rules, and documents.
Much of that spending, as chronicled last week, was on National Park Service staff projects. In western Colorado, though, far more of the land surrounding our cities and towns is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Several readers asked whether that agency received a similar windfall of new funding, and how BLM might now be “investing in America.”
Fortunately, BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning just penned an op-ed piece, printed in several western papers, providing insight into her plans and priorities. In brief, it’s about acting today to ensure the health of our public lands tomorrow “amid climate change.” A worthy mission, no doubt. And what specific action should BLM be taking today to meet that objective? Not much, in fact. It is more about stopping actions than taking actions.
Stone-Manning oversees an agency with a $1.6 billion budget, 245 million acres of land and 700 million acres of minerals. She is responsible for managing 221 wilderness areas, 27 national monuments, 636 National Conservation System parcels, 2,400 miles of wild and scenic rivers, 6,000 miles of national scenic and historic trails, 55 million acres of forests, 63,000 oil and gas wells, 18,000 grazing permits, 3.8 million mining claims, 309 coal mines, 46,000 abandoned mines, 5,000 miles of pipelines and transmission lines, 200,000 miles of fishing streams, 2.2 million acres of lakes and reservoirs, 69 National Back Country Byways, thousands of miles of trails, and 62 million recreational visitors a year.