The BLM's Proposed New Grazing Regulations: Serving the Most Special Interest
24 Journal of Land Resources & Environmental Law, Vol. 24, p. 241, 2004
8 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2009
Date Written: 2004
On December 8, 2003, the Department of the Interior issued proposed amendments to the regulations that govern livestock grazing on over 160 million acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands. Although purporting to further relationships between the BLM and ranchers using BLM lands, careful examination reveals that the proposed amendments are a virtual wish list for ranchers, relaxing environmental restraints and restoring ranchers to dominance on western public lands. The amendments would dilute environmental standards, implementation, enforcement, and would eliminate non-rancher public land users’ input into management decisions. Generally, the proposed amendments favor ranchers over environmentalists, even making it easier for ranchers convicted of environmental crimes to obtain grazing permits. This promotion of the interests of a group ideologically aligned with the Bush administration reveals the proposed amendments’ cynicism and venality. By specifically reversing former regulations and making others ineffective, the proposed regulations would undo much of what was done by Rangeland Reform. In effect, the proposed amendments will return ranchers to the exclusive role in critical public lands decisions that they enjoyed before the advent of modern legislation such as the National Environmental Policy Act and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act. This article provides some information about public lands livestock grazing, and identifies the exclusion of the non-ranching public from the key public rangeland decisions and the manipulation of data requirements resulting in a de facto suspension of environmental standards as the proposed amendments’ most offensive features. It also exposes the administration's suppression of the BLM’s analysis of the negative environmental impacts of the proposed regulations.
Keywords: Natural resource law, public lands, environmental law
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation