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The Trump administration's new strategic plan for the Interior Department reportedly commits to exploiting fossil fuel reserves on public lands. (Photo: Mike Morris/Flickr/cc)

Climate Threat Erased, Big Oil Bonanza Embraced in Leaked Draft of Interior Dept. 5-Year Plan

The Nation reports a leaked draft of the department's five-year strategic plan does not mention climate change while emphasizing "energy dominance"

Jessica Corbett

A leaked draft of the Interior Department's five-year strategic plan includes no mention of climate change while reaffirming the Trump administration's commitment to pursuing "American energy dominance" by exploiting "vast amounts" of energy reserves on public lands, according to an exclusive report published Wednesday by The Nation.

"Alarmingly, the policy blueprint—a 50-page document—does not once mention climate change or climate science," The Nation reports, compared with the 2014-2018 plan, developed under President Donald Trump's predecessor, which mentioned climate change more than 40 times and vowed the department would be "a national leader" in "increasing climate change preparedness and resilience."

The Obama-era strategic plan declared, "The DOI is committed to adaptively manage resources to mitigate the impacts of climate change, consider climate change on a landscape-level to improve resiliency, and work across agency lines to develop and provide data, information and decision support tools," even outlining six "mission areas" on which the department would focus.

Alternatively, the Trump administration's Interior Department—which is under the direction of Secretary Ryan Zinke, who's dedicated his energy to carving up national monuments, and a former fossil fuel industry lobbyist who's been called a "walking conflict of interest"—has set its sights on escalating natural gas and oil production on American soil.

As the Nation reports:

While disregarding climate change, the 2018–2022 strategic plan places a premium on facilitating oil and gas development. It calls for speeding up the processing of parcels nominated for oil and gas leasing on public lands.

It establishes an Executive Committee for Expedited Permitting to facilitate on- and -offshore leasing, and aims to reduce the time it takes to green-light energy projects on Native land by 50 percent. The department is also seeking to speed up the application process for drilling permits, even though industry is currently sitting on thousands of approved permits....

Not surprisingly, one of the DOI's key performance indicators for the next five years will be the number of acres of public lands made available for oil and natural-gas leasing.

The Trump administration's ongoing efforts to open up public land to dirty energy production were bolstered last week by a Senate vote approving a GOP-crafted budget resolution that, as Common Dreams reported, "also lays the groundwork for 'drastic cuts' to programs that help shield the nation's land, air, and water from exploitation by big polluters."

As part of the budget resolution process, 51 Republican senators and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) also thwarted efforts by conservation groups and a collection of Democratic lawmakers to #ProtectTheArctic, defeating an amendment that would have barred drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern Alaska.

In addition to ignoring climate change and limiting mentions of conservation efforts—which was notably featured in the previous plan—Trump's strategic plan reportedly also highlights the department's role in monitoring federally controlled land along the U.S.-Mexico border, pledging to deploy department officers "to decrease illegal immigration and marijuana smuggling on DOI managed public lands."

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