Agencies with Science Blinders

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.


  1. http://www.westernwatersheds.org/issues/public-lands-ranching/federal-grazing-fee

    Federal Public Lands Grazing Fee

    Western Watersheds Project has relentlessly pursued a fair grazing fee on federal public lands. In 2003, as part of our comments on the Bush Administration’s proposed changes to BLM grazing regulations (regulations that have since been overturned and repeatedly tossed out by the courts), we suggested that the agency reform the fee formula. They did not take our recommendations.

    In 2005, we joined our other conservation organizations in submitting an Administrative Procedures Act petition asking the Department of Interior and the Department of Agriculture to address the grazing fee formula. Having gotten no answer by 2010, we filed a lawsuit against the government to compel their response.

    In 2011, we got our answer from DOI and USDA: “No.”

    This is unacceptable. The current grazing fee formula is flawed, fails to cover the costs of administering the program by a wide margin – a margin even wider when one considers the ecological costs incurred by this land use practice. And yet, year after year, the taxpayers make up the difference between what livestock operators pay and what the operations cost.

    WWP will keep fighting for a fair fee, one that keeps up with inflation and grazing fees on private and state trust lands around the West. If our public lands must withstand grazing abuse, at least let’s get the money

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