According to a complaint filed today by the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, the Bureau of Land Management set out to perform a comprehensive assessment of environmental impacts of its activities . . . but purposefully omitted any consideration of the impacts of the grazing permits it issues on 157 million acres of federal land. The BLM claims that it “lacks data” on grazing impacts, and can’t distinguish impacts of cattle grazing from those of natural and introduced ungulates such as antelope and burros. Meanwhile, the environmental study did include a serious assessment of the environmental impacts of rock collectors on federal lands.
Any chance the political sensitivities of ranchers, who have for well over a century resisted any serious effort to reign in the impacts of overgrazing, had something to do with BLM’s blinders when it comes to grazing impacts? President Obama promised to remove politics from agency science decisions; and in fact, the Department of the Interior was one of the first agencies to adopt internal rules implementing this promise. PEER’s complaint is filed under the procedures provided by the new rules.