Interior Dept. suspends work of 200 ‘advisory panels’ pending policy review

Interior Dept. suspends work of 200 ‘advisory panels’ pending policy review
Target-rich environment. (Image via yellowstonepark.com)

[Ed. – Among others, those who use the 30 BLM Regional Advisory Councils to get enviro-activism and crony projects rubber-stamped, while calling the process “local input,” are upset about this.  For many ranchers, farmers, and small communities, it’s a godsend. It is the opposite of a catastrophe.  It means Obama-era policies will not continue on autopilot.  The idea that Zinke or Trump is going to make decisions behind closed doors while these councils are shut out is ridiculous.  The Trump administration can, and probably will, postpone decisions that these councils are advising on, until the review Zinke speaks of is complete: the review of whether the advisory process complies with Trump’s executive orders.]

The Interior Department is formally reviewing the “charter and charge” of more than 200 advisory panels that assist federal agencies managing hundreds of millions of acres of public lands at a time when the Trump administration is considering significant changes to land-use designations and management practices.

The Bureau of Land Management has told members of its 30 resource advisory councils (RACs) to postpone scheduled meetings through at least September as part of the new national review of Interior’s advisory panels, both internal and external.

That includes canceling meetings of six other BLM advisory committees affiliated with specific sites within the agency’s National Conservation Lands system, as well as two other high-profile panels: the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board and the North Slope Science Initiative Science Technical Advisory Panel in Alaska. …

Heather Swift, an Interior spokeswoman, told E&E News in an email today that the review is part of an ongoing effort by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke aimed at “restoring trust in the Department’s decision-making.” …

But Swift said the review is also designed to ensure compliance with “the President’s recent executive orders.”

President Trump in the last month has signed a number of executive orders, including one requiring the review of all policies that may “potentially burden” energy production activity on federal lands.

Trump last week also signed one requiring Interior to review the boundaries of dozens of national monuments designated within the last two decades and to decide whether they should be altered or eliminated (Greenwire, April 26).

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