BLM skipping environmental review where livestock grazing conflicts are greatest

This opinion column was submitted by Greta Anderson, deputy director of Western Watersheds Project.

Western Watersheds Project and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) each recently released analyzes regarding the Bureau of Land Management’s environmental oversight of its livestock grazing program on 155 million acres of western public lands. We compiled the agency’s own data on permit and lease renewals and their compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires a public process, a land health evaluation, and an environmental analysis for every 10-year authorization.

Spoiler alert: The agency is actively ducking its supervisory responsibilities on the livestock grazing leases where environmental conflicts are most severe.

This lack of oversight and abdication of legal responsibility allows livestock grazing to imperil, trample cultural sites, spread invasive species, ruin water quality and degrade recreational experiences without so much as a “hard look” at whether those impacts should be allowed to occur or could be mitigated by changes in management. By rubber-stamping permit renewals under their original terms, the Bureau has been kicking the can down the road on the majority of public lands where livestock are permitted.

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