U.S. Department of the Interior | KUNR

U.S. Department of the Interior

An image of a firefighter with a chainsaw cutting down debris.
Joe Bradshaw / Bureau of Land Management

Here are the local news headlines for the morning of Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021.

News Brief 

UPDATED: Today, the Department of the Interior said it would begin the next step of the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative by holding formal consultations with tribes. In a press release, the Department said, "agency staff are currently compiling decades of files and records to facilitate a proper review to organize documents, identify available and missing information, and ensure that records systems are standardized."

An image of a boat in the middle of Lake Tahoe, with smoke surrounding
Courtesy Katie Senft / UC Davis

Here are the local news headlines for the morning of Monday, Sept. 20, 2021.

KUNR Today: Masks Are Again Required Indoors, Federal Judge Upholds Ban On 'Ghost Guns'

Jul 28, 2021
An image of a 3-D printed handgun
Courtesy / Federal Bureau of Investigation

Here are your local news headlines for the morning of Wednesday, July 28, 2021.

News Brief

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland faced lawmakers on Capitol Hill Tuesday as she advocated for an $18 billion budget increase for her department next year. The money would go towards advancing renewable energy projects, expanding wildland fire programs and boosting public safety on reservations.

But questions from senators on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee went far beyond the scope of her budget. They grilled Haaland on everything from endangered grizzly bears to her department’s review of oil and gas drilling.

The Interior Department is asking Congress for $17.6 billion next year, about $2.5 billion more than this year.

Last week, the Biden administration unveiled its budget plan for managing federal public lands, and it contains big funding increases that reflect the administration's priorities around conservation and climate change.

 
Deb Haaland's road to lead the Department of the Interior has been rocky, with some members of Congress using her confirmation process to air grievances with President Joe Biden's climate change agenda.
 

On Tuesday, Montana Sen. Steve Daines and Wyoming Sen. Cynthia Lummis, both Republicans, placed a procedural hold on her nomination, citing concerns about her positions on oil and gas development.

 

 

 

New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland is poised to become our nation's first Indigenous cabinet secretary. As some prominent Mountain West lawmakers oppose her confirmation to lead the U.S. Department of the Interior, many of their Indigenous constituents are pushing back.

The Interior Department is facing criticism for putting up barriers to conservation projects nationwide funded through the new Great American Outdoors Act.

The Interior Department has announced it’s temporarily waiving entrance fees for recreation areas, national monuments and national parks. Secretary David Bernhardt said he wanted to make it easier for people to recreate on public lands.

Listen to this story here.

After congressional Democrats voted this week to give one of their own the power to subpoena the Trump administration, U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt dismissed the move as a “witch hunt.”

A side-by-side image shows glacial differences between 1938 and 2019 at Glacier National Park in Montana.
USGS

President Donald Trump unveiled his budget proposal Monday, and a significant cut to the Department of Interior is on the table.

The Trump administration wants to cut funding for all but one agency within the Interior, for a 16% overall reduction.

Updated 2:24 p.m. MST 2/6/2020

In the face of ongoing litigation from tribes and conservation groups, the Trump administration has finalized plans to expand drilling, mining and grazing across southern Utah — including within the former bounds of Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments. 

Bear stands on log with a cub.
Frank van Manen / U.S. Geological Survey

In the lower 48 states, grizzly bears used to roam across much of the West, but now, they’re confined to areas mostly in Montana and Wyoming. They’re considered endangered.

The U.S. government has recently agreed to review their endangered status, due to a controversial lawsuit which ultimately aims to build a plan to eventually bring grizzly bears to more places, including the Sierra Nevada.

The Interior Department has been trying to tackle a growing backlog of public records requests under the Trump administration, and now the agency is creating a new legal team to help with the effort. 

Flaring natural gas (largely methane) at a well site in North Dakota in 2014. The Bureau of Land Management relaxed rules regulating flared, leaked and vented methane from oil and gas operations on federal and tribal lands.
Jeffrey Peischl / CIRES

Update, Jan. 15 10:11 a.m.: The Department of Interior has provided a statement, which is now included in this story.

The Trump Administration’s Interior Department has largely ignored public comment on proposed rule changes, according to an analysis from the Center for Western Priorities.

The conservation advocacy group looked at ten proposals from Interior, including the easing of offshore drilling regulations and Endangered Species Act protections. What it found was that while more than 95% of public comments were opposed to the changes, the agency still moved forward on most of them.

Since the 1960s, the National Park Service has partnered with nonprofit organizations to provide environmental education services to the public. But a recent audit from the U.S. Interior Department’s Office of the Inspector General found that some of these Residential Environmental Learning Centers have strayed from their original mission .

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, an International Biosphere Reserve along the U.S.-Mexico border, where some park rangers from around the West have been deployed to boost law enforcement.
National Park Service

The Trump Administration is continuing to deploy park rangers at the U.S.-Mexico border to help with enforcement. And while national parks and other public lands in the West are feeling the effects, it’s unclear just how much.

The Interior Department’s chief watchdog updated Congress Wednesday on the agency’s efforts to curb a long-term pattern of sexual harassment. 

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