The Trump Public Lands Revolution: Redefining 'The Public' in Public Land Law
69 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2017 Last revised: 5 Nov 2017
Date Written: October 11, 2017
The Trump administration’s efforts to comprehensively dismantle Obama-era policies had special force in federal public land management. The disassembling included a promised reduction in the size of national monuments, a jettisoning of protections for sage-grouse habitat, and a widespread fostering of fossil-fuel friendly policies, such as ending leasing moratoria, attempting to revoke methane emission controls, and a scuttling hydraulic fracturing regulation. Congress was a willing partner in this deregulatory campaign, eliminating revised land-planning regulations and threatening to authorize oil leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
This article surveys these events in the early days of the Trump administration. The effect was to revolutionize public land law in arguably undemocratic terms, as there was little evidence of widespread public support for the rollbacks of land protections or the championing of fossil-fuel development. We think that the Trump revolution reflected an attempt to fundamentally redefine the public in public land law and policy, narrowing the focus of government concern largely to those producing commodity production, especially fossil fuels. The long-term consequences are disturbing in terms of their potential costs and who will be saddled with them.
Keywords: public lands law, natural resources law, environmental law, energy law,Trump administration
JEL Classification: H23, H41, H53, H77, K11, K23, K32, Q01, Q15, Q24, Q28, Q34, Q35, Q38, Q43, Q48, Q58
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation