Democrats seek criminal charges against Trump Interior head
Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee have asked the Justice Department to investigate whether a Trump administration interior secretary engaged in possible criminal conduct while helping an Arizona developer get a crucial permit for a housing project.
US states look to step up wolf kills, pushed by Republicans
Wolf hunting policies in some states are taking an aggressive turn, as Republican lawmakers and conservative hunting groups push to curb their numbers and propose tactics shunned by many wildlife managers. AdThe timing of the Wisconsin hunt was bumped up following a lawsuit that raised concerns President Joe Biden’s administration would intervene to restore gray wolf protections. The states have been holding annual hunts since, and wildlife officials cite stable population levels as evidence of responsible wolf management. Ad“Too many wolves,” Republican state Sen. Bob Brown said of his mountainous district in northwest Montana. Ad“I’m not surprised we’re seeing hunting groups wrap themselves in the mantle of patriotism,” Winkler said.
US agency cancels Trump policy on conservation purchases
Interior Department officials on Thursday canceled a Trump administration directive that gave local and state officials power to block purchases of land and water for conservation under a longstanding federal program. Trump administration officials had said the order would have allowed the government to fulfill goals that were set when conservation areas were created, by filling in missing pieces of them. Jon Tester of Montana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia and others for undermining the conservation program. They accused the Trump administration of using Bernhardt’s order to circumvent the intent of Congress and squandering the bipartisan goodwill created by passing last year's law. Daines welcomed the move to revoke the order and said in a Thursday statement that the program was a critical tool for conservation.
US government approves routes for Wyoming CO2 pipelines
The U.S. government has approved routes for a system of pipelines that would move carbon dioxide across Wyoming in what could be by far the largest such network in North America, if it is developed. – The U.S. government has approved routes for a system of pipelines that would move carbon dioxide across Wyoming in what could be by far the largest such network in North America, if it is developed. In all, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management designated 1,100 miles (1,770 kilometers) of federal land for pipeline development through the Wyoming Pipeline Corridor Initiative, the Casper Star-Tribune reported. Energy markets drive development of carbon capture projects for oil development, said Matt Fry, state of Wyoming project manager for the pipeline initiative. Sage grouse numbers have dwindled substantially over the past century and much of their habitat in Wyoming carries development restrictions.
Federal court strikes down major Trump climate rollback
The rule, which was made final in 2019, replaced the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration's signature program to address climate change. The court decision came on the last full day in office for the Trump administration. The Clean Power Plan, one of President Barack Obama’s legacy efforts to slow climate change, was blocked in court before its 2017 repeal. The Trump administration substituted the Affordable Clean Energy plan, which left most of the decision-making on regulating power plant emissions to states. “It looks like we’re kicking off a new era of clean energy progress a day early,” Castor said.
Deceptions in the time of the 'alternative facts' president
It meant buying into “alternative facts” — a phrase that spurred sales of George Orwell’s dystopian book “1984” when it was coined by a Trump aide. “I’m shocked to hear that,” Trump told his crowd. “And we now have the greatest, most modern military in the history of our country,” Trump told his Georgia crowd. But the systematic deceptions of the “alternative facts” president were unlike anything before. Attempting to explain her phrase, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said there are alternative ways of arriving at the truth.
After frosty few days, Pence, Trump appear to reach détente
(Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP, Pool)WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence appear to have come to a détente after nearly a week of silence, anger and finger-pointing. “We are further calling on the vice president to respond within 24 hours after passage,” Pelosi wrote. After days of behind-the-scenes arm-twisting, Trump repeatedly singled out Pence during his pre-riot rally, wrongly insisting the certification could be halted as it got underway. Trump then continued to tweet that Pence “lacked courage" as the president's supporters stormed the Capitol. But Trump and Pence apparently chosen to bury the hatchet — at least for the time being.
As end approaches, Trump gets doses of flattery, finality
Barr offered his resignation last Monday after weeks of tension with Trump brought about an early exit from his post. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)NEW YORK – President Donald Trump’s administration is ending how it began, with over-the-top declarations of praise for the chief executive. Attorney General William Barr offered his resignation last Monday after weeks of tension with Trump brought about an early exit from his post. In the six weeks since his defeat by Biden, Trump has been increasingly disengaged from his job. But with Trump largely in hiding, it fell to Pence to make a public show of meeting with those distributing the vaccine.
Visit by COVID-infected official closes Washington Monument
American flags fly around the Washington Monument Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in Washington. The Trump administration has closed the Washington Monument because of a recent visit by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, who tested positive this week for the coronavirus. National park employees also have expressed concern at he and other Interior officials continuing to visit national parks and other federal sites during the pandemic, Brengel said. Goodwin said the Washington Monument, normally one of the capital's most visited sites, would reopen Monday, with tickets going on sale Sunday. In the photos, uniformed National Park Service employees often are the people standing nearest him, often without masks.
Interior chief latest official to test positive for virus
(AP Photo/Jim Mone)WASHINGTON – Interior Secretary David Bernhardt has tested positive for the coronavirus, an agency spokesman said. Bernhardt's test results Wednesday make him the latest administration official, including President Donald Trump, to test positive for the virus. Interior spokesman Nicholas Goodwin said Bernhardt has no symptoms. Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to receive the vaccine for the virus Friday. COVID-19 cases are on the rise in the United States, and more than 300,000 people have died nationally.
Land conservation plan stirs fight over Trump restrictions
U.S. officials on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020, released details on proposed land conservation purchases for the coming year amid bipartisan objection to restrictions on how the government's money can be spent. – Proposed land conservation purchases in dozens of states would preserve more natural areas within tourist destinations, U.S. officials announced Friday, as lawmakers from both parties pushed back on Trump administration restrictions on how the money can be spent. Bernhardt's order also limits land acquisitions to property inside the existing boundaries of parks and refuges, rather than expanding their footprint. An Interior Department official closely involved in the development of the spending plan defended Bernhardt’s order. Tester spokesman Roy Loewenstein said the senator would push the administration of Democratic President-elect Joe Biden to quickly strike down Bernhardt's order.
Correction: Gray Wolves-Endangered story
FILE - This June 30, 2017 remote camera image released by the U.S. Forest Service shows a female gray wolf and her mate with a pup born in 2017 in the wilds of Lassen National Forest in Northern California. Trump administration officials on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020, stripped Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in most of the U.S., ending longstanding federal safeguards and putting states in charge of overseeing the predators. (U.S. Forest Service via AP, File)
Trump makes water demand of farms priority for new office
An executive order from Trump put Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler in charge of the interagency water body. Establishment of a water subcabinet “will streamline decision-making processes" across federal agencies, the EPA said in a statement. The first priority set out by the executive order is increasing dam storage and other water storage, long a demand of farmers and farm interests in the West in particular. That includes California’s Westlands Water District, the nation’s largest agricultural water district. Westlands was one of Bernhardt’s main lobbying and legal clients before his appointment to the Interior Department under Trump.
Governor asks court to block actions by Trump's land boss
The Democratic governor is asking a federal judge to oust the Trump administration official responsible for overseeing more than quarter-billion acres of public lands. The agency oversees almost a quarter-billion acres of land, primarily in the U.S. West. Pendley, a former oil industry and property rights attorney from Wyoming, had called for selling off public lands until he joined the administration and disavowed that stance. He's helped usher the land bureau through a series of moves that eased rules for industry but seen pushback from federal judges. Interior officials argued that none of the bureau's actions should be overturned because Bernardt had the legal authority to delegate decision-making.
Trump, Biden commemorating 9/11 at Flight 93 memorial
President Donald Trump and his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, will both be traveling to rural Shanksville, Pennsylvania, Friday, where the hijacked Flight 93 crashed in a field, killing everyone on board. While Trump will speak at the site's annual memorial ceremony held Friday morning, Biden will visit later, in the afternoon, after attending the 9/11 Memorial & Museum’s annual commemoration at Ground Zero in New York, along with Vice President Mike Pence. Still, Biden insisted that he would steer clear of politics on a national day of mourning. In 2016, the 9/11 memorial events became a flashpoint in the campaign after then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton abruptly left the Ground Zero 9/11 ceremony and was caught on tape stumbling and then falling as she tried to get into a van. The 2,200-acre Flight 93 National Memorial marks the spot in rural Pennsylvania where the hijacked flight crashed, killing all 40 people on board.
6 Western states blast Utah plan to tap Colorado River water
That is not a recipe for creating the kind of meaningful and positive change needed to sustain the Colorado River in the coming decades, they wrote. The Lake Powell Pipeline project would divert 86,000 acre-feet (106 billion liters) of water to Washington County, Utah. Under the agreements between the seven states, cuts would hit Arizona, California and Nevada before affecting Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. Although the project isolates Utah from the other states that rely on the river, it would keep pushing for the pipeline, said Todd Adams, director of the Utah Division of Water Resources. The states are contending with a drier future as they renegotiate agreements that detail how Colorado River water is doled out.
Cold case units focus on missing, murdered Indigenous women
She attended the opening of a Lady Justice Task Force cold case office in Anchorage, which will investigate missing and murdered Indigenous women. These women are among the hundreds of Alaska Native or American Indian women who have gone missing over the years, and in many instances, their cases have gone cold. Now the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services is opening seven Operation Lady Justice Task Force cold case offices across the country to concentrate on the number of missing and murdered Indigenous women. In late July, when the first cold case office opened in Bloomington, Minnesota, the database indicated there were more than 1,500 unsolved cases of missing or murdered Indigenous women. Arizona has the second highest count of cold cases, at about 240.
Forklift damages Fort McHenry walkway ahead of Pence speech
A forklift has damaged a brick walkway at the iconic national monument Fort McHenry, where Republicans were building a stage for Vice President Mike Pences appearance for the partys national convention, a National Park Service spokeswoman said Monday. National Park Service spokeswoman Stephanie Roulett confirmed the damage in an email Monday. The scene inspired Francis Scott Key to write The Star Spangled Banner. The U.S. designates the fort as a national monument and historic shrine. The National Park Services website says the fort is closed to the public for the coronavirus pandemic. The National Park Service, whose acting chief Bernhardt recently replaced, also authorized Republicans to set off fireworks at the Washington Monument on Thursday for Trumps speech accepting the partys nomination.
2 lawsuits challenge Trump's drilling plan in Alaska refuge
Fish and Wildlife Service, caribou from the Porcupine Caribou Herd migrate onto the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeast Alaska. Environmental groups wasted no time challenging the Trump administration's attempt to open part of an Alaska refuge where polar bears and caribou roam free to oil and gas drilling. Fish and Wildlife Service via AP, File)ANCHORAGE, Alaska Environmental groups wasted no time challenging the Trump administrations attempt to allow oil and gas drilling in an Alaska refuge where polar bears and caribou roam. This is an all-hands-on-deck moment to defend the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and protect Americas bird nursery from drilling, David Yarnold, president and CEO of the National Audubon Society, said in a statement. The Bureau of Land Management in December 2018 concluded that drilling could be conducted within the coastal plain without harming wildlife.
Montana governor presses to remove Trump's public lands boss
Steve Bullock said William Perry Pendley's continuing leadership of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management undermines conservation efforts and is illegal because he's never had a Senate confirmation hearing. The Associated Press reported earlier this week that Pendley remains in charge of the bureau under an arrangement that Pendley himself set up months ago. In a May 22 order, Pendley made his own position, deputy director, the bureau's top post while the director's office is vacant. William Perry Pendley is breaking the law, and at stake are over 27 million acres of public lands in Montana, Bullock said in a statement. Officials with the Interior Department, which includes the Bureau of Land Management, have said previously that Bullock's lawsuit is frivolous.
Public lands chief hangs on despite nomination getting nixed
That's not how it works," Sen. Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat, said of the May order in an interview. Prior to joining the Trump administration, he had called for the government to sell its public lands. Interior Department spokesperson Conner Swanson confirmed that the arrangement outlined in Pendley's order means he will continue to lead the bureau. After joining the government, he declared that his past support for selling public lands was irrelevant because his boss, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, opposes the wholesale sale of public lands. Under Trump, the land bureau has sought to scale back some protections for public lands, including proposals to ease restrictions on oil and gas exploration, mining and grazing.
US approves oil, gas leasing plan for Alaska Wildlife refuge
ANCHORAGE, Alaska The Department of the Interior on Monday approved an oil and gas leasing program within Alaskas Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the sprawling home to polar bears, caribou and other wildlife. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt signed the Record of Decision, which will determine where oil and gas leasing will take place in the refuges coastal plain, a 1.56-million acre swath of land on Alaskas north shore with the Beaufort Sea. Congress approved the program in 2017, and the Interiors Bureau of Land Management in December 2018 concluded drilling could be conducted within the coastal plain area without harming wildlife. The Trump administrations so-called review process for their shameless sell-off of the Arctic Refuge has been a sham from the start. Our climate is in crisis, oil prices have cratered, and major banks are pulling out of Arctic financing right and left, Adam Kolton, Executive Director at Alaska Wilderness League, said.
Trump to withdraw Pendley's nomination as public lands chief
Democrats alleged the temporary orders were an attempt to skirt the nomination process, and Montana Gov. Trump announced Pendley's nomination to become the bureau's director in June. A senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter, confirmed Saturday that the president intended to withdraw that nomination. William Perry Pendley wants to sell off our public lands and has no business being in charge of them.The bureau oversees nearly a quarter-billion public acres in the U.S. West and much of the nations onshore oil and gas development. The agency has also sought to ease rules for oil and gas drilling that were adopted under the Obama administration.
Probe: Interior held back Bernhardt records sought by court
The Interior Department withheld public documents related to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt ahead of his Senate confirmation, an agency watchdog office concluded in a report made public Tuesday. Not since the Teapot Dome scandal have we seen a more corrupt Interior Department," Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Rep. Ral Grijalva of Arizona said in a statement, referencing the 1920s corruption scandal. The report didn't identify the court case or detail what was in the withheld documents. A counselor to the secretary, Hubbel Relat, had directed the staffers in Interiors Office of the Solicitor legal office and FOIA office to withhold documents related to Bernhardt, the report says. The attorney also remembered that this direction from Relat was to remain in place until after Bernhardts confirmation, the report says.
Congress passes sprawling plan to boost conservation, parks
Supporters say the measure, known as the Great American Outdoors Act, would be the most significant conservation legislation enacted in nearly 50 years. Supporters say the measure, known as the Great American Outdoors Act, would be the most significant conservation legislation enacted in nearly half a century. Supporters say the bill will create at least 100,000 jobs, while restoring national parks and repairing trails and forest systems. Gardner and Daines are among the Senates most vulnerable incumbents, and each represents a state where the outdoor economy and tourism at sites such as Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone national parks play an outsize role. Visitors cannot enjoy national parks such as Yellowstone and Yosemite if the bathrooms dont work, if the trails and campgrounds arent open, or if the roads are in disrepair, Heinrich said.
Trump Cabinet members look to reassure battleground voters
With President Donald Trump confronted by skyrocketing joblessness and the coronavirus pandemic as he campaigns for reelection against Democrat Joe Biden, members of his Cabinet are busy making time in pivotal states. They are carrying a message to voters about what the Trump administration is doing for them. A Trump campaign spokesperson did not respond to questions about the Cabinet members' trips. Biden campaign spokesperson Michael Gwin accused the Trump administration of focusing on "scoring political points, not delivering for the people they work for. It was unclear whether the Trump campaign or the federal government paid for Bernhardt's costs on the trip.
As much of U.S. dials back July 4 plans, Trump goes big
The celebration comes one day after Trump kicked off the holiday weekend by travelling to Mt. Rushmore for a fireworks display near the iconic mountain carvings George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. Still, Trump insisted on moving forward on holding big gatherings--including the Mt. Kristi Noem, a Trump ally, insisted social distancing wasnt necessary and masks were optional. Pritzker warned he wont hesitate to close down businesses that dont abide by capacity requirements, and he encouraged people to avoid large crowds and wear face coverings.
Trump's DC July 4th: fireworks and face masks
A mile-long firing of 10,000 fireworks would be the largest in recent memory, Bernhardt said. The Trump administrations Salute to America comes as Americans are dealing with surging cases of COVID-19 and a resulting recession and wave of unemployment. Bernhardt said authorities planned to have 300,000 face coverings on hand to give away at the National Mall. The Interior Department said visitors would be encouraged to wear masks and keep a six-foot distance from one another. Like last year, donations are helping support part of the cost of the July 4th events, Bernhardt said.
Administration skips hearing on violence against protesters
The White House, however, trumpeted the administration's continuing support of law officers in the now subsiding protests. If there was a shred of evidence, the administration would have presented fact witnesses to support this gaslighting, Rep. Jared Huffman, a California Democrat, said. The clearing of Lafayette Square is the subject of an Interior Department inspector-generals review and at least one lawsuit brought by those wounded. At a separate briefing Monday, a House Oversight subcommittee addressed the treatment of protesters and journalists at demonstrations across the country, including Lafayette Square. The administration has denied that authorities forced protesters from the square that day so Trump could stage a law-and-order photo op nearby, clinching an upheld Bible.
Watchdog eyes violent routing of protesters near White House
An Interior Department watchdog office will investigate law enforcement and security forces violent clearing of protesters from a square in front of the White House earlier this month. Greenblatt agreed late last week, telling the lawmakers that Interior Secretary David Bernhardt had also asked for the review. Authorities have given at times conflicting accounts about who oversaw and ordered the forceful routing of protesters from Lafayette Square. Bernhardt, the interior secretary, has said violent attacks by the crowd warranted clearing the protesters. Reporters and other witnesses and Democratic lawmakers say they saw little sign of that scale of violence by the crowd.
Democrats ask for investigation of force against protesters
The violent clearing of demonstrators from the nation's premier protest space in front of the White House is spotlighting a tiny federal watch force created by George Washington. Democratic lawmakers want answers about the clubbing, punching and other force deployed by some Park Police in routing protesters from the front of the White House on Monday. The First Amendment rights to free speech, peaceful assembly, and free press are the building blocks of all other rights, the three lawmakers said. The three lawmakers letter, sent Monday, asks Interiors internal watchdog whether the force used by Park Police was lawful and in line with rules, policies and training standards for the force. Lawmakers also asked the investigators to determine who was giving orders to the Interior Department in the squares clearing.
A force trained to safeguard peaceful protests turns on them
Democratic lawmakers want answers about the clubbing, punching and other force deployed by some Park Police in routing protesters from the front of the White House on Monday. Bernhardt in the letter took responsibility for asking for the National Guard deployment at federal monuments in the Washington protests. White House officials and others in the administration had pinned the decision on Barr. The White House and the Park Police have emphatically denied that tear gas was used to clear the demonstrators Monday. Theres millions of people who come to the White House every year, Thomas said of the protest space.
Trump committed to July 4 celebration despite lawmaker alarm
As President Trump has said, there will be an Independence Day celebration this year and it will have a different look than 2019 to ensure the health and safety of those attending, Deere said. Last year's July Fourth event featured tanks, a military flyover and a Trump speech at the Lincoln Memorial. Under recommendations by the mayors Reopen DC task force, large gatherings are prohibited during the first phase of reopening. In Phase Three, gatherings would cap at 250 people, with physical distancing. Large gatherings, like the Independence Day event, would not occur until the District enters Phase Four, "when a vaccine or other cure has been widely administered, or the disease has effectively disappeared.
National parks hope visitors comply with virus measures
Visitors to Yellowstone National Park often leave common sense and situational awareness at home, as those examples in the past year show. Were out there.Other national parks that have reopened include Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina, where park officials urge visitors to arrive early at popular spots. We're expecting there to be less people on the trails than being open all day, said Grand Canyon spokesperson Lily Daniels. A lot of it is self-governance.That's not a good idea, said former Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent Rob Arnberger in an opinion piece Friday in The Arizona Republic. No ones an expert at reopening national parks in a pandemic, Sholly said.
Trump to mark Memorial Day at ceremony at Baltimore monument
WASHINGTON Many Americans may be staying in this Memorial Day weekend, but President Donald Trump is hitting the road, set to visit Baltimores Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. The Trumps are to be joined by Defense Secretary Mark Esper; Interior Secretary David Bernhardt; Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and military ceremonial units. Trump was also considering travel next week to Florida to view the launch of the first U.S. manned spaceflight since the retirement of the space shuttle, Florida Gov. I think the big guy is going to be there.Trump marked Memorial Day last year aboard a U.S. aircraft carrier in Japan, where he was on a state visit. He participated in ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery in his first two years in office.