Top Committee Democrats Request Documents from Interior Department on Policy Shifts

Washington, D.C. – Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) along with the Ranking Members of all five Natural Resources Subcommittees – Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Rep. A. Donald McEachin (D-Va.), Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii), and Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) – sent a letter today to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke asking him to provide the first set of reports outlined in the March 29, 2017, Secretarial Order on “American Energy Independence” to all Members of the House Natural Resources Committee.

In the letter, available at http://bit.ly/2oZa4xq, the Ranking Members point out that the “wide-ranging and vague directives” regarding energy in both the Secretarial Order and the March 28, 2017, Executive Order, “have the potential to completely upend the way the Department of the Interior manages energy development on public lands, leading to a situation where the desires of fossil fuel developers to use our public lands to mine for coal or drill for oil and gas could dictate Departmental policy, while the interests of ordinary citizens are given short-shrift or completely ignored.” Such vague directives included instructions for each Department of the Interior agency and office to identify all Departmental actions and policies that, “potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources,” and send a report on those actions to the Deputy Secretary of the Interior by April 19, 2017.

“This Administration continues to hit new lows when it comes to being open, transparent, and responsive with Congress and the American people,” said Grijalva. “We deserve to know if the Department of the Interior intends to let oil, gas, and coal companies call the shots when it comes to our public lands, and major policy changes should be debated out in the open, not decided via secret memos potentially being written by unknown campaign staffers whose only qualifications are blind obedience to the President.”

“In its first 100 days, the Trump administration has demonstrated a disregard for transparency and public discussion, said Hanabusa. “I trust Secretary Zinke will provide the Committee on Natural Resources with copies of documents requested in his Secretarial Order so that the Committee can fulfill its oversight function and individual Members can advise their constituents regarding policy changes impacting public lands.”

"The Department of Interior needs to act in the best interest of hardworking Americans, not the select few," McEachin said. We need policies that support efforts to protect federal lands and ensure clean air and water. As the Committee's ranking Democrat for Oversight and Investigations, I will review the materials in great detail because the American people deserve transparency and honesty."

The letter specifically requests that the following reports required by Secretarial Order 3349 be provided to the Natural Resources Committee by April 27, 2017:

  • Reports from all bureaus and offices provided to the Deputy Secretary on all actions taken on mitigation and climate change policy, which were due on April 12, 2017;
  • Reports provided to the Assistant Secretaries on the BLM Methane Waste Rule, the National Park Service Oil and Gas Rule, and the Fish and Wildlife Service Oil and Gas Rule, which were due on April 19, 2017; and
  • Reports provided to the Deputy Secretary from all bureaus and offices that identify all actions that “potentially burden the development or utilization of domestically produced energy resources,” which were due on April 19, 2017.

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