Friday, September 25, 2015

Obama to overhaul process for offsetting environmental harm

The White House is preparing a presidential memorandum that seeks to streamline how the government offsets damage to public lands, waters and wildlife, according to several sources. The memo aims to consolidate separate mitigation policy reform efforts that are already underway at federal agencies and learn from past mistakes, sources said. It would affect everything from energy production on the federal estate to the construction of government buildings. "It has the potential to create a new, more collaborative relationship between industry and the government that would serve both interests," said an Obama administration official who was not authorized to speak to the press. "Industry would be able to use federal resources in a way that would contribute to sustaining the yield of resources over time and growing them." That proactive mitigation for timber harvesting and other land uses is necessary, the source said, "because the population is growing and changing. So if you're going to continue to provide those goods and services off that resource base, you need to conserve it or grow it." But oil and gas industry groups are skeptical about the effort, which sources suggested could promote closer ties between regulators and drillers, because the changes are being crafted behind closed doors. "It's a great goal, but collaboration doesn't happen by dropping a policy on people that they can't see beforehand," said Kathleen Sgamma, a vice president at the Western Energy Alliance who hadn't heard about the effort until she was contacted by Greenwire. "That's not collaboration."...more

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