(Reno,NV) Wild Horse Education (WHE) sent a letter to the Department of Interior, and key legislators, requesting that all new proposed activities be suspended. WHE has sent an additional request to key members of Congress asking they suspend the additional $21 million set to amp up the current roundup schedule.
New actions proposed by Interior currently include massive mining projects, weakening the Endangered Species Act and wild horse planning that will result in roundups and sterilizing wild horses. There are active land use plan revisions (RMP, LUP), including one in Idaho that will decimate one of the smaller herds that live there. These activities require public notice and participation through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The public needs to have free access to information and staff in order to participate fully.
Many Americans are currently facing “shelter in place” orders due to the current pandemic. At this time Americans should be focused on their health, safety and immediate needs to accomplish both. In addition, often individuals that would be directly effected by these decision making processes live in rural areas where mail is not delivered to a residential address, but a PO Box. Citizens considered at risk that live in rural areas, most effected by land use decisions, will not receive proper notification and will be inhibited from exercising their right to participate, as they stay home to avoid infection.
The Interior Department should immediately suspend ongoing public comment periods, halt upcoming oil and gas lease sales, and delay new policy proposals. To continue to move forward would deny many American the right to participate, fully, during this National Emergency.
In addition, Wild Horse Education has requested that the additional funding pending release to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro program be suspended. In the 2020 Appropriations bill BLM was awarded an additional $21 million dollars to ramp up roundups of wild horses and burros on public lands and begin aggressive fertility control (including sterilization). The release of the additional funding is to occur 60 days after BLM provides Congress with a report. The report is now over 9 months late indicating that BLM has not taken the requirement seriously. At this time, the additional $21 million could be better used by our country to support the effort to address the current health care crisis and not to amp up an agenda already under investigation.
In February the House voted in favor of allowing the House Natural Resources Committee chair Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) to subpoena the BLM for documents relating to “mismanagement, waste, fraud, abuse, and wrongful conduct” within the Interior Department. These requests for information include the push by William Perry Pendley (currently acting with the authority of BLM Director) to relocate the agency’s headquarters to Colorado. Pendley was appointed as acting BLM chief without a Senate confirmation process.
Pendley is the subject of multiple inquiries Ethics violations. These inquiries include an Office of the Inspector General Complaint filed by Wild Horse Education referencing proposed policy changes sought by those on his 17 page recusal list for wild horses (HERE).
“Ramming through questionable, harmful and controversial policy directives that result in irreversible harm to our public resources is abhorrent,” stated Laura Leigh, President of Wild Horse Education, “Allowing it to continue while our nation faces the current health crisis is criminal.”