Since its inception, the mission statement of the Bureau of Land Management has been simple: “The BLM’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.” However, that mission statement is now, as HuffPost reports, simply missing.
Until recently, that mission statement has been attached to reports and public documents provided by the BLM. But now it’s gone. As in, completely gone. It’s been cut from “all agency releases, including those that predate the Trump administration.” Instead, the BLM now has a single focus, and a single mission: “the economic value of America’s public lands.”
Where the old mission statement talked about preserving the health and diversity of public lands for future generations, the Trump version replaces those ideas with consumption and profit. The old sentence about health, diversity, and the enjoyment of future generations has been replaced with this: “Diverse activities authorized on these lands generated $96 billion in sales of goods and services throughout the American economy in fiscal year 2017. These activities supported more than 468,000 jobs.”
That’s the Trump White House view of diversity: We can wreck our public lands in a lot of different ways. And of course it makes no mention of preserving anything for future generations. Because they’re not.
Note that the BLM did not generate $96 billion through the sale of oil and gas leases, or coal leases, or timber, or anything else. What the BLM brought in was a small fraction of that amount. The number being reported is the estimated revenue—the money made by companies that took from public lands, not the money that went to taxpayers for the privilege.
The official change from preserving to tearing down appears to have occurred sometime this week, with the new language appearing, appropriately enough, on a coal mining lease in Oklahoma. The BLM is an agency within the Interior Department, which is now headed by oil and gas lobbyist David Bernhardt. Before taking office, Bernhardt represented at least three oil companies in conflicts with the BLM concerning access to public lands.