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Leaked 'Priority List' Shows Massive Focus on Fossil Fuel Extraction on Public Lands

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Arch Coal's Black Thunder Mine, Powder River Basin, Wyoming. Photo credit: EcoFlight

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is readying a new "priority list" for the agency with a heavy focus on fossil fuel development on public lands, new documents leaked to E&E News reveal.


The documents, including a "BLM Priority Work" list accompanying talking points memo, were drafted by BLM administrators and have been reviewed by Trump transition team members, but have not yet been circulated to staff.

While wind and solar development earn small mentions, the documents emphasize main goals of making more federal lands available for energy development and streamlining leases and permits for oil, gas, coal and hardrock mining projects.

The draft priority work list under the "Making America Safe through Energy Independence" includes:

  • Make additional lands available for "all of the above" energy development
  • Address backlog of Applications for Permit to Drill (APDs) and Expressions of Interest (EOIs)
  • Streamline Federal coal leasing and permitting, and address backlog
  • Streamline oil and gas leasing and permitting
  • Streamline rights-of-way processing for pipelines, transmission lines and solar/wind projects
  • Streamline leasing and permitting for hardrock mining

The priority list was "assembled by the team at the BLM to clearly lay out our continued commitment to ensure opportunities for commercial, recreation and conservation activities on BLM-managed lands," Megan Crandall, an agency spokeswoman, told E&E News in an email.

"No one voted to pollute our public lands, air or drinking water in the last election, yet the Trump administration is doing the bidding of powerful polluters as nearly its first order of business," Earthjustice attorney Jenny Harbine said after Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke ordered the lifting a moratorium on federal coal leasing. A coalition of groups, including Earthjustice, are suing the Trump administration over the order, which opens tens of thousands of acres of public lands to the coal industry.

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