Last year, the Bureau of Land Management, an office within the U.S. Department of the Interior, introduced a new rule (found at 81 Fed. Reg. 89580) designed to ensure that when federal government decisions about land management are made, they’re made on the basis of solid scientific information and transparent input, rather than through the corrupt influence of powerful corporations.
In explaining the anti-corruption rule, the Bureau wrote, “The final rule requires that, when preparing or amending resource management plans, the BLM must use high quality information, including the best available scientific information. The final rule also emphasizes the importance of assessing resource, environmental, ecological, social, and economic conditions at relevant spatial scales and before initiating the preparation of a resource management plan, in order to apply science-based decision-making and inform management decisions at multiple scales. The final rule will add new opportunities for meaningful public involvement in the land use planning process and emphasize the importance of early public involvement in order to engage different perspectives and ensure planning is responsive to public needs and values. Final changes will promote increased communication with and transparency to the public by providing for the use of electronic communications and information technology, in addition to traditional methods of communication.”
The rule specifically addressed the influence of corruption in the federal regulatory process, requiring “representation of knowledge such as facts or data, including the best available scientific information, which is accurate, reliable, and unbiased, is not compromised through corruption or falsification, and is useful to its intended users”.
It is unfortunately not difficult to predict what the new, corporate-funded Republican U.S. House of Representatives would do in reaction to this anti-corruption rule. Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted to pass H. J. Res. 44, a resolution destroying the anti-corruption protection.
Only one Republican in the lower house of Congress, Walter Jones, had the decency to vote against the corrupt resolution.
As a result, under the new pro-corporate Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, America’s public lands will be available to be exploited for fossil fuels and minerals by the highest bidder, without substantial grassroots public input or scientific information to get in the way.
With this dig at public integrity, the Republicans in Congress just made the swamp of corruption in Washington DC even deeper.