10/15/2020 - Federal Policy Analysis

Managing Public Lands under the Trump Administration and Beyond

by Eric Wriston, JD 2022, Joe Goffman, Laura Bloomer, Peter Daniels, JD 2021

What’s happened to the Department of the Interior during the Trump administration? Laura Bloomer, Peter Daniels, Eric Wriston, and Joe Goffman interviewed dozens of former DOI career staff, former political appointees, and natural resources and American Indian law experts and distills their insights in our newest white paper. They analyze political leadership at the Department of the Interior (DOI) during the past four years and offer a suggested path forward for a Biden administration.

Since President Trump took office in 2017, DOI has rolled back regulations designed to protect endangered and threatened species as well as grazing and land use reforms, offered unprecedented areas of public lands for oil and gas development, and attempted to shrink and weaken protections for national monuments. These actions undermine DOI’s conservation mission, impair its ability to address climate change, and subject our public lands to uses that aren’t sustainable. They also significantly impact local communities, including Indigenous communities who have spiritual and cultural connections to the lands. This direction is likely to continue should President Trump win a second term.

If a Biden administration takes office, DOI will need to reverse some of the Trump administration’s management decisions in order to back away from the energy dominance agenda and restore Interior’s capacities. This will include prioritizing conservation and science-based decision making, accelerating clean energy projects, and restoring the US’s relationship with tribal nations.

Read our full report here and listen to our conversation with Laura about this project here.