Friday, April 14, 2017
Unsung hero of rural America: Fred Kelly Grant instructs local officials how to beat environmental nannies
While President Trump and Congress tackle federal regulations and the agencies that promulgate them, Fred Kelly Grant is quietly doing the same — and succeeding — with the most powerful weapon you’ve likely never heard of. It’s called “coordination” — tucked into the National Environmental Policy Act by Congress in 1976, the provision requires federal agencies to coordinate with local officials before implementing new rules, so the intentions and expectations are consistent at every level of government. “Local policy and local plans are what drive the economy,” Mr. Grant said. “Under the coordination law, the agency doesn’t just come to the table and talk and walk away. They have to try to reach consistency with local government. That’s the key to it and that’s why it works, and every other process doesn’t.” Not even Mr. Trump can make a difference without local help, according to Mr. Grant. “Anybody that thinks the president of the United States drives the economy is living in an Alice in Wonderland world. He doesn’t. He can set the tone, but nothing changes from the top. It all has to change from the bottom,” Mr. Grant said. “And that’s where local government, with coordination, could get the agencies to the table with them and begin to make change.” Mr. Grant, a longtime attorney who lives in Idaho, discovered the rule in the early 1990s during the Clinton administration’s “Cattle Free by ‘93” campaign to reduce grazing on federal lands. A rancher friend asked him for help in fending off the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) efforts to cut such grazing by 45 percent in southwest Idaho’s Owyhee County. Mr. Grant heard about coordination at a conference on property rights, and looked it up. “I didn’t know about it. I worked for two governors and I had never come across it,” Mr. Grant recalled. “As I read it, I thought, ‘This can’t be. Congress didn’t leave this loophole.’ And the more I read, the more I realized it was not a loophole. It was intended and had been used successfully by counties four times in the past.” The BLM had never coordinated with county officials as required by federal law. So Mr. Grant told the ranchers that with the statute, he could hold the feds at bay for two years — long enough for the BLM to find another way to get cattle off federal land. Mr. Grant was wrong. “The ranchers are still there, they’re still raising livestock, they’re still all in business and we beat the BLM,” he said. “We got rid of six different district managers because they broke the law. We got rid of two state directors because they broke the law, and today managers of the BLM drive 140 miles round trip once a month to sit down and meet with three county commissioners of Owyhee County, Idaho.”
The American Stewards of Liberty, and in particular, Margaret Byfield, have been very helpful to us in Dona Ana County. Checkout this section of their website for more info on coordination.
Find out about coordination and you will see why it was so important to roll back BLM 2.0