The BLM violated the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act in creating the rules, U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill ruled.
Winmill’s 52-page ruling said the BLM’s rule revisions would have loosened restrictions on grazing on millions of acres of public land nationwide, limited the amount of public comment the BLM had to consider and diluted the BLM’s authority to sanction ranchers for grazing violations.
“While the BLM justifies the changes as making it more efficient, the BLM was not their originator — it was the grazing industry and its supporters that first proposed them,” Winmill wrote.
In a pattern familiar to observers of the Bush administration, reports written by scientists were edited and the conclusions softened by teams of political appointees. The scientists had concluded that the new rules would have “very long-lasting adverse effect to the wildlife of the public lands of the West.” The edited review was much more positive.