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Saturday, June 15, 2024

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The Supreme Court throws out a Trump-era ban on gun bump stocks; a look at how social media algorithms and Shakespearian villains have in common; and states receive federal funding to clean up legacy mine pollution.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

Conservation groups praise new rules governing oil and gas on public lands

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Monday, May 20, 2024   

Groups fighting for public lands and national parks are praising two recent Biden administration rules for managing federal land.

The oil and gas rule instructs the Bureau of Land Management to minimize effects of extractive uses like mining and drilling for oil and gas.

Matthew Kirby, senior director of energy and landscape conservation for the National Parks Conservation Association, argued the oil and gas industry has had too much influence in the past.

"Under the previous administration, we saw oil and gas leases offered right up to the boundary of national parks, which doesn't make sense in a rational leasing system," Kirby contended. "These type of rules ensure that won't happen again."

The Independent Petroleum Association of America has said the new rule makes the regulatory environment hostile to extractive uses and will hurt local tax revenues. The oil and gas rule also increases royalty and rental rates and updates leasing terms and bonding rules requiring companies to foot the bill for cleanup and restoration.

The Public Lands Rule puts conservation on an equal footing with extractive uses and recreation. Kirby noted smog now pollutes the air in some of California's most famous national parks.

"Sequoia and Kings Canyon, which is not far from the sprawling oil fields of Bakersfield, ranked as the single worst air quality of any parks in the country," Kirby pointed out. "Yosemite just a little bit further north wasn't far behind at number four in terms of worst air quality."

In California, the BLM owns 15 million acres of land, and about 78,000 acres are currently producing oil and gas. The agency controls 245 million acres of land across the United States and 90% are open to extractive uses.

Disclosure: The National Parks Conservation Association contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species and Wildlife, Environment, Public Lands/Wilderness, and Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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