Charters of BLM Advisory Councils Revised

Date: March 23rd, 2018

Agency: DOI, Federal

Explanation: Bias and Misrepresentation, Research Hindrance

Scientist: Climate, Other

In May 2017, the Department of the Interior (DOI) suspended twenty-one resource advisory councils (RACs), established to advise the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on issues relating to the management of federal lands. In March 2018, BLM announcedthat the RACs would be reinstated, and their charters renewed. However, the renewed charters include new provisions which critics say alter the functions of the RACs, and force them to “help implement the priorities of [the Trump] administration.”

Under the renewed charters, RACs are required to “provide recommendations for implementation” of various executive orders, and secretarial orders. Specifically, RACs must assist with implementation of Executive Order 13777 by identifying “regulations for repeal, replacement, or modification,” especially those that “eliminate jobs or inhibit job creation” or hinder energy development. RACs must also identify “additional steps to enhance exploration and development of Federal onshore oil and gas resources and Federal solid mineral resources” consistent with Secretarial Order 3354.

Many see the inclusion of these requirements in the RACs charters as an attempt to limit their activities. One RAC member, Mike Quigley, told reporters that the requirements “narrow[] the [RACs] focus” to implementing the Trump Administration’s policies. Quigley fears that “[m]emorializing secretarial orders” in the charters will force RACs to give them “undue weight” and put the RACs “in a position of implementing an agenda rather than providing solid advice.”