Bureau of Land Management quietly takes out a sentence about sustaining land from mission statement
The way the Bureau of Land Management is presenting itself to the press and world under the Trump administration is reflecting a focus on exploiting and extracting resources from federal lands, rather than stewardship and conservation. The latest example appears on the Bureau of Land Management’s press releases this week. At some point, a sentence was quietly taken out of the mission statement, and it didn’t go unnoticed.
First reported in the Huffington Post, here’s the sentence that was snipped out of the middle of the long-standing mission statement on the boilerplate:
“The BLM’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.”
Before the cut, the text on press releases was as follows:
“The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. Diverse activities authorized on these lands generated $96 billion in sales of goods and services throughout the American economy in fiscal year 2017. These activities supported more than 468,000 jobs.”
So, as you can see, somebody was instructed to take out the offending sentence about sustaining the land for future generations. Now, what’s left is a focus exclusively on money and jobs. This coincides nicely with the administration’s push for “a new National Park Service (NPS) infrastructure fund paid for with money from oil drilling, wind, solar and other federal energy sources.”
The BLM has stripped its conservation-focused mission statement from agency news releases. The text now exclusively highlights the economic value of America’s public lands. https://t.co/Hj6alN20q7
— AWHC (@FreeWildHorses) May 16, 2019
The Huffington Post noted that conservationists were not happy about the changes from Trump and the latest Interior Secretary, David Bernhardt, a former oil and gas lobbyist.
Aaron Weiss, media director at Colorado-based conservation group c, called the change “a perfect representation” of how Trump and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt view America’s public lands.
“In their world, our lands are only here for exploitation and financial gain, not protection and preservation,” Weiss told HuffPost. “Bernhardt’s clients profit; our kids and grandkids pay the price.”
A review by the Center for Western Priorities found that David Bernhardt has hidden at least 45 meetings with drilling, mining, water, and other industry groups from the public, many of which overlap with Bernhardt’s work as a former lobbyist and lawyer. https://t.co/MooXqUbues pic.twitter.com/5LI76Hrgxm
— Western Priorities (@WstrnPriorities) April 11, 2019
The BLM has raised eyebrows with branding efforts before. In March 2018, the federal agency’s then-acting director Mike Nedd commissioned badges called “vision cards” for employees. Handed out at the start of Trump’s administration, the badges featured an image of an oil rig under the mission statement about protecting the land for future generations.
The reverse side featured language about “excellence in business practices” and to improve “accountability to our stakeholders, and deliver better service to our customers.”
Outside Online noted:
“It’s not clear what they mean by customers, but recent history suggests it may mean extractive industries.”
The year before, the Trump administration slashed Bears Ears National Monument at the urging of oil and mining interests, ignoring conservation groups, recreational users, and local tribes. It was part of the largest reduction of national monuments in American history, carving a collective 2 million acres from a pair of protected sites in Utah, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments.
Given Trump’s executive order to roll back Obama’s climate change policies and start an “energy revolution” prioritizing coal instead, it seems fitting that BLM changed a banner on its homepage to a giant slab of coal in April 2017. A caption read, “large coal seam at the Peabody North Antelope Rochelle Mine in Wyoming” when users hovered over the image.
The prior banner had shown two “backpack-wearing boys gazing out over a scenic rolling hills,” as found on the Wayback Machine online archive.
Featured image: Oil rig via Max Pixel