Legislative and Regulatory Update
August 2021 by Scott Harn
• New, damning revelations about Biden nominee to head BLM
As mentioned last month in this column, Tracy Stone-Manning is President Biden’s nominee to head the Bureau of Land Management.
Stone-Manning completed a background questionnaire under oath before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, where she answered questions about a tree-spiking incident that occurred in 1989.
Tree-spiking is an eco-terrorist tactic where large nails or metal rods are hammered into trees so that the head of the “spike” is not visible. These spikes create a deadly hazard for anyone attempting to harvest the tree with a chainsaw. In the 1989 incident, the US Forest Service received a profanity-laced letter from the eco-terrorist group Earth First! that stated 500 trees were spiked in Idaho’s Clearwater National Forest to prevent those trees from being harvested following a timber sale.
Stone-Manning eventually admitted she typed and mailed the letter, but claimed her motivation was to prevent anyone from getting injured if they attempted to harvest the trees.
Michael Merkley was the lead investigator for the US Forest Service for the 1989 incident, and he has provided some valuable insight.
“After seeing the reports in the news over this past month regarding President Biden’s nominee to be director of the Bureau of Land Management, Tracy Stone-Manning, and knowing of her involvement in that incident that I was in charge of investigating, I feel compelled to come forward...” wrote Michael Merkley, a retired Forest Service Special Agent, in a letter to the Senate Natural Resources Committee.
Merkley continued, “Contrary to many of the stories in the news, Ms. Stone-Manning was not an innocent bystander, nor was she a victim in this case. And, she most certainly was not a hero.”
Merkley stated that Stone-Manning was “extremely difficult,” “vulgar,” and “antagonistic,” after she was served with a subpoena that required her to provide hair, hand-writing exemplars and fingerprints.
“It was not until after we informed her that she would arrested if she did not comply with the subpoena that she reluctantly provided those sample to me. However, she refused to answer any of my other questions.”
Another three years had passed when an informant told Merkley and a grand jury that Stone-Manning had typed and mailed the profanity-laced letter.
After Stone-Manning learned “she was going to be indicted on criminal charges for her active participation in planning these crimes,” she hired an attorney and negotiated a deal to testify against her fellow Earth First! members.
Merkley concludes, “...it was clear to those of us familiar with the activities of the group that she not only was an active participant but also wielded significant influence among its members.”
Senator Barrasso, in an op-ed published in USA Today, said, “It’s not clear her radical views have changed.”
He cited a 2018 article written by her husband about rural homes and wildfires that was published in Harper’s Magazine in which the husband stated, “There’s a rude and satisfying justice in burning down the house of someone who builds in the forest.”
“BLM’s work is too important to be led by someone who covered up for eco-terrorists, lied to the Senate and supports extremist views most Americans find reprehensible,” wrote Barrasso. “The Senate must reject this nomination.”
All ten Republican Senators on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee sent a letter to President Biden, asking him to withdraw the nomination. As of our press time, there has been no withdrawal.
It was a milestone day in the battle to maintain the rights of miners to dredge on federal mining claims in California.
• Change is coming at Interior
• Interior Department seeking public comment regarding minerals
The one legal entity that can change the game and provide a path and template to protect landowners and public land users across the United States is the miner.
The petition seeks specific changes to existing Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management regulations to restore the intent of Congress and federal preemption.
A proposed constitutional amendment to raise the cap on mining taxes can proceed as written, a state judge ruled March 14.
...Judge Ochoa ordered the parties to participate in mandatory settlement hearings starting June 24, 2014.
• ESA changes for the better
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