Flickr / Earthworks

La Plata County Commissioner Gwen Lachelt is fighting fresh ethics concerns over her environmental activism. Lachelt, who has encountered questions about her dual role as both an elected official and environmental activist going back to 2014, faced a new complaint during a commissioners meeting last month over her attempt to get a resolution passed in support of a lawsuit by teenagers from Boulder, Colo., and environmental groups against a state regulatory board.

U.S. Department of the Interior

The Interior Department this week announced the members of the task force the agency has set up to review federal rules and regulations. In February, President Trump issued an executive order requiring federal agencies to set up task forces to identify regulations to be repealed, replaced, or modified in order to “alleviate unnecessary regulatory burdens placed on the American people.”


Following pressure from environmental activists, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) announced today that Colorado would join a coalition of states that have committed to achieving the goals of the Paris climate agreement. The goal is to “maintain a strong oil and gas industry and reduce emissions to help keep those fuels globally competitive while at the same time cleaning our air and cleaning our water,” Hickenlooper said at a press conference today.


The Department of the Interior (ROI) received more than 1.3 million comments heading into the final hours of the July 10 deadline as it reviews National Monuments designated since 1996 under the 1906 Antiquities Act after an executive order signed by President Donald Trump in April. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recommended a “right-sized” Bears Ears National Monument in a statement released in mid-June.

Department of the Interior

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the Bureau of Land Management has “not been a good partner” in conducting lease sales and providing an efficient permitting process, and directed the agency to “follow the law” in a secretarial order issued Thursday. “Oil and gas production on federal lands is an important source of revenue and job growth in rural America but it is hard to envision increased investment on federal lands when a federal permit can take the better part of a year or more in some cases. This is why I’m directing the BLM to conduct quarterly lease sales and address these permitting issues,” said Zinke.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to unravel the 2015 “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule last week drew immediate bipartisan support, as the agency took the first concrete procedural steps to revoke the regulation after the Trump administration issued an executive order in February. “I strongly support the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to withdraw the Waters of the U.S. rule. I am hopeful this action will start the process of bringing much needed relief for farmers, ranchers, rural businesses and local governments,” Rep. Collin C. Peterson (D-MN), ranking member on the House Committee on Agriculture said in a statement following the announcement.


Bureaucratic hurdles imposed by the federal government are discouraging oil and natural gas development on federal lands and resulting in deferred or lost revenues for states, witnesses told a House committee hearing this week. “The greatest challenge today is regulatory uncertainty at [Bureau of Land Management],” Ryan Flynn, executive vice president of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, explained in testimony to the committee.

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