Andy Kerr

Conservationist, Writer, Analyst, Operative, Agitator, Strategist, Tactitian, Schmoozer, Raconteur

Department of Interior

The Hard Case of Hardrock Mining Reform (Part 2): Conservation Areas in Which to Just Say No

The Hard Case of Hardrock Mining Reform (Part 2): Conservation Areas in Which to Just Say No

While the how, when, where, and why of mining on federal public lands is important (see Part 1), at least as important is where notto mine on federal public lands. These include places where the public’s interest in the conservation of natural, historical, and cultural values outweighs the value of any minerals that might be had, places that have been reserved for the benefit of this and future generations rather than for the benefit of today’s corporation.

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The Hard Case of Hardrock Mining Reform (Part 1): Where Done, If It Cannot Be Done Right, Then Do It the Least Wrong

The Hard Case of Hardrock Mining Reform (Part 1): Where Done, If It Cannot Be Done Right, Then Do It the Least Wrong

Today anybody, including foreign companies (as long as they own a domestic corporate shell), can enter most federal public lands and stake a claim, which the government treats as a right to mine. The government cannot say no to such hardrock mining, no matter how inappropriate.

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New US Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Exploitation: Costly and Short Lived (Part 2)

New US Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Exploitation: Costly and Short Lived (Part 2)

For economic, environmental, and societal reasons equally applicable to today’s and future generations, the United States should eschew any new offshore oil and gas exploitation and continue its progress toward a fossil fuel–free sustainable energy economy a decade or two earlier than it otherwise would.

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New US Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Exploitation: Costly and Short Lived (Part 1)

New US Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Exploitation: Costly and Short Lived (Part 1)

The Trump administration is proposing to open up vast areas of the United States Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) to leasing for oil and gas, far larger than the area made available under the Obama administration.

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Zinke’s Move to Defile the Izembek

Zinke’s Move to Defile the Izembek

The Trump administration is trying to allow a 12-mile road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge and wilderness area in Alaska.

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The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, Part 1: A Vital National Conservation Purpose

The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, Part 1: A Vital National Conservation Purpose

There are times when Congress acts in a visionary manner. (Is it less so today, or is it just me?) Such was the case in 1968 when it enacted into law the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

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Using the Bundys for Good: Finding the Silver Lining for Public Lands

Using the Bundys for Good: Finding the Silver Lining for Public Lands

Don’t tell anyone, but the more the Bundys—especially the patriarch, Cliven—talk, the better off are America’s public lands. This is true even if Cliven doesn’t again go off-script and full-on racist...

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Bungling of the Bundys: A Postmortem Analysis of Government Incompetence

Bungling of the Bundys: A Postmortem Analysis of Government Incompetence

The bands of bozos that joined Cliven Bundy and his four sons in legally questionable escapades on federal public lands have mostly gotten away with it.... And now the conservation community has a chance to make sweet, sweet lemonade out of the Bundy lemons.

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Protecting the Pacific Northwest Offshore Ocean for This and Future Generations

Protecting the Pacific Northwest Offshore Ocean for This and Future Generations

Abstaining from mineral development offshore is the only way to protect the marine environment and the renewable resources that depend upon it.

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A Solution to Corridor Collisions: A National Wildlife Corridors System

A Solution to Corridor Collisions: A National Wildlife Corridors System

Just as it is in the public interest to have systems of corridors for the movement of vehicles, oil, gas, electrons, and water, it is in the public interest to have a system of corridors for wildlife.

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The National Landscape Conservation System: In Need of Rounding Out

The National Landscape Conservation System: In Need of Rounding Out

In 2000, Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt created, by administrative order, the National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS), to “conserve, protect, and restore these nationally significant landscapes that have outstanding cultural, ecological, and scientific values for the benefit of current and future generations.”

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Energy Exploitation on Federal Public Lands? Not!

Energy Exploitation on Federal Public Lands? Not!

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and I don’t agree on most public lands issues, including greater sage-grouse, national monuments, fossil fuel energy exploitation, and endangered species to name a few. But we do agree on at least one matter: Solar panels don’t belong on public lands.... While photovoltaic panels can happily and profitably live on roofs in town, bighorn sheep, desert tortoises, and sage-grouse cannot.

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What’s in a Name? Preserving National Monuments Versus Antiquities Only

What’s in a Name? Preserving National Monuments Versus Antiquities Only

Back in the day, an Act of Congress, signed into law by President Theodore Roosevelt on June 8, 1906, soon after became commonly known as the “National Monument Act.” The more recently used name of the “Antiquities Act of 1906” must now be changed back to “National Monument Act of 1906.”

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Numerous No-Take Marine Protected Areas Are Best for Commercial Fishing

Numerous No-Take Marine Protected Areas Are Best for Commercial Fishing

Marine protected areas (MPAs) in the United States exist to preserve our nation’s marine resources for this and future generations. About 26 percent of US marine waters are protected in some kind of MPA, defined ... as “any area of the marine environment that has been reserved by federal, state, territorial, tribal, or local laws or regulations to provide lasting protection for part or all of the natural and cultural resources therein.” A few MPAs known as marine reserves or no-take MPAs (amounting to about 3 percent of US waters) do not allow hunting, fishing, or collecting. The purpose of these no-take MPAs, which include marine national monuments, is to sustain fisheries and allow ecosystems to recover from environmental stressors.

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The National Marine Sanctuary System, Actual and Potential

The National Marine Sanctuary System, Actual and Potential

National Marine Sanctuaries have been established to protect shipwrecks, whales, coral reefs, and other things marinely spectacular. “Sanctuary” is generally a misnomer, though, in that NMSs are not true sanctuaries from all extractive uses. Most NMSs were established by the secretary of commerce in the process mandated in the NMSA. Surviving this process means that most NMSs come out the other end of the bureaucratic meat grinder as compromised. While oil and gas exploitation is generally banned (sometimes NOAA doesn’t do so, but Congress always steps in and does so ban), other extractive uses are often not.

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Federal Systems for the Conservation and Enjoyment of Lands and Waters

Federal Systems for the Conservation and Enjoyment of Lands and Waters

Federal conservation systems are an unqualified social good and generally provide elevated protection and better management to important federal public lands and to resources and areas of high national significance. All existing federal conservation systems could be improved, and none should be weakened or discarded. Those that haven’t yet been codified by Congress need to be.

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