10/10/2019

Trump Administration Cuts 85 Environmental Regulations—Imperiling Our Public Lands

When the Trump administration took control of our nation’s land management agencies in 2017, one of its first initiatives was to aggressively reduce the government regulations that protect the environment, in an attempt to fast track extraction on public lands and establish America’s "energy dominance.”

Harvard and Columbia Law Schools are now reporting that President Trump has rolled back 85 environmental rules since taking office—paving the way for drilling, extraction, and industrial development. And just this week, the Interior Department proposed a new rule to fast track the extraction of leasable minerals

The rollback of 85 environmental laws gets a thumbs down from Access Fund, and we are calling on the administration to change course and seek out a better balance for our public lands.  

These attacks on environmental regulations will cause damage to our public lands and the sensitive ecosystems, imperiled species, traditional values, and recreational resources they support—not to mention the dire impact on marginalized communities and global climate. The systematic reduction of environmental rules is expected to significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions and lead to thousands of additional deaths from poor air quality each year, according to a recent report prepared by New York University Law School's State Energy and Environmental Impact Center. 

America’s public lands are also home to nearly 60% of climbing areas in this country, and attacks on our public lands threaten some of our most treasured climbing areas. As part of its ambush on environmental regulations, the Trump administration has drastically reduced public comment periods from 30 or more days to a mere 10 days, in an attempt to silence opposition from the American public and advocacy groups like Access Fund.  

Access Fund has been working overtime to monitor oil and gas leasing and other activities that may be harmful to our climbing areas. While we're is still able to submit objections when leases will harm our climbing areas and the integrity of climbing resources, the 10 day comment periods don’t often allow enough time to activate our community of climbing advocates to submit public comments. This directly impacts your ability to have a say in the future of our shared public lands. 

There must be a balance between improving the way government functions and maintaining critical protections for our public lands.

Access Fund supports common-sense efforts to improve our system of environmental laws and regulations. For instance, we have long advocated for a set of national climbing management guidelines to streamline the current system in which hundreds of inconsistent local climbing regulations in districts across the country confuse climbers and waste taxpayer dollars. On the flip side, we do not support gutting environmental review (National Environmental Policy Act) regulations, even though this move could slightly reduce the time for agency decisions on trail maintenance projects. Access Fund is willing to support common sense reforms if they preserve environmental protections and benefit the broad public interest and not just the fossil fuel industry. 

As climbing advocates, we must be a tireless watchdog of our public lands to ensure we are protecting America’s climbing and conserving the earth for future generations. Access Fund is proud to provide that service to the climbing community, and we will continue to fight for the health and integrity of our climbing areas and America’s public lands.