Nov 10, 2022 | News Release Western Environmental Law Center
This month, conservation groups finalized a legal agreement with the Bureau of Land Management to reverse a Trump-era rule excluding vastly more logging in post-fire landscapes from detailed environmental review. The agreement resolves a legal challenge the groups brought against the agency in October, 2021.
“Categorical exclusions” allow agencies to approve actions having minimal environmental effects without detailed environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act. The Trump rule increased the maximum area for categorical exclusions permitting logging of “dead or dying trees” from 250 acres to 3,000 acres—a 1,200% increase. The rule also doubled the maximum amount of permitted road construction from one-half to one mile of permanent road. The previous categorical exclusion rule required those roads to be temporary. The Bureau will now engage in rulemaking to remove the categorical exclusion language from its NEPA implementing procedures and revert to the old guidance. In the meantime, BLM will refrain from using the categorical exclusion.