Trump to end policy ordering developers pay for damage to public lands

Trump to end policy ordering developers pay for damage to public lands
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The Trump administration is planning on ending a policy that requires oil drillers, miners and land developers to pay the government for damages its work can have on wildlife and habitats on public land.

Bloomberg News reported that the administration on Tuesday plans to announce that the Interior Department will stop requiring off-site “compensatory mitigation." 

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Bloomberg notes that the policy was expanded in the final days of the Obama administration and ordered developers to offset the impacts of their actions on public lands. As part of the policy, developers could offset these impacts by doing things such as funding the restoration and protection of wetlands and other habitats. 

The Interior Department said that the change will not have any effect on “compensatory mitigation” at the state level, according to Bloomberg. The department also said that it will continue considering environmental impacts while giving out permits.

“We still in every decision we make say ‘Have we avoided impacts? Have we minimized impacts?’ ” Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt told Bloomberg. “We will still do that but when it comes to doing compensatory mitigation off-site we will say that needs to be voluntary.”

Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeTrump administration weakens methane pollution standards for drilling on public lands Big-game hunters infuriated by Trump elephant trophy debacle Interior moves ahead with opening wildlife refuge next to contaminated nuclear site MORE has been a noted critic of the "compensatory mitigation" policy. He's previously said the policy requires tens of millions of dollars to “buy off” nonprofit groups to move forward with project permits. 

“In many quarters, that’s called extortion,” Zinke said at a Chamber of Commerce event in 2017, according to Bloomberg. 

The move from the Trump administration comes as it looks to alter other environmental laws.

Last week, the administration proposed changes to the way it enforces the Endangered Species Act (ESA).