Trump administration officials are making clear they intend to roll back Obama-era rules aimed at limiting waste and abuse of federal land and waterways.
The Interior Department is rolling back two Obama-imposed rules aimed squarely at restricting federal agencies from seizing and reusing private property for construction, including an oversight board that requires contractors to disclose conflicts of interest and environmental impacts before they sign contracts.
And Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said last week that the department would be rolling back a rule requiring federal agencies to disclose whether they have used federal funds for the construction of new roads or bridges.
In a memo sent to Interior agencies last week, Interior Secretary Jason Zinke wrote that he would roll back the environmental reviews of federal agencies that are critical to environmental protections.
“The rules on land use and development will be reviewed to make sure they don’t undermine our nation’s national security or undermine our ability to effectively enforce the law,” Zinke’s memo said.
The memo, which was obtained by The Associated Press, said that Interior had asked for a review of the rules and asked for more information on the review process.
Zinke said in a statement the department is “reviewing our regulations to determine if they can be re-established in a way that protects our environment while protecting the public interest.”
In a recent interview with NBC News, Zinke also said that the Trump Interior Department would have the authority to unilaterally waive existing rules if they were deemed inconsistent with national security.
The rule changes come as Zinke is trying to restore some of Trump’s environmental legacy and put a face to his administration’s controversial environmental agenda.
The rules were first imposed in 2013 by the Obama administration.
Under the rule, contractors must get approval from the Federal Land Management Service to use federal land for construction.
The federal government owns about 1.5 million acres of public land in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming.
In Utah, about one-fifth of the state’s public lands are federally owned.