What do the Trump, Zinke orders mean for conservation?

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By Chris Heck

On Tuesday, March 28, President Donald Trump issued an executive order rescinding several Obama-era executive orders and memoranda on energy, natural resources, and climate change, including the following:

In addition to withdrawing these presidential actions, Trump’s executive order instructs agency heads to identify existing agency actions that occurred as a result of the now rescinded executive orders.

As laid out by President Trump’s order, “the objective of the review is to identify agency actions that unnecessarily burden the development or utilization of the Nation’s energy resources and support action to appropriately and lawfully suspend, revise, or rescind such agency actions as soon as practicable.”

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke (pictured in the cowboy hat at center) rode horseback to his first day on the job.

Shortly after the executive order was issued, Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Ryan Zinke issued Secretarial Order 3349 “American Energy Independence” which formally began the review process of prior Department actions.

One prior department action was quickly identified by this review process: former DOI Secretary Sally Jewell’s Secretarial Order 3330 “Improving Mitigation Policies and Practices of the Department of the Interior.” Order 3330 had called for the development of a department-wide mitigation strategy that would rely on a landscape-scale approach to identifying and facilitating investments in priority conservation areas. Upon review, DOI determined that Order 3330 is no longer valid, and was formerly withdrawn on Wednesday, March 29.

Additional DOI-wide actions taken under Order 3330 will now be reviewed. These include the 2014 report, “A Strategy for Improving the Mitigation Policies and Practices of The Department of the Interior,” which provides its employees with direction on how to implement this new strategy and the “Climate Change Adaptation Plan for 2014” to provide guidance for the implementation of Obama’s executive order.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is one DOI agency that may find several of its recent policies reviewed and rescinded. The Service used the now rescinded 2015 presidential memorandum, in tandem with the above DOI-wide actions, to develop a revised mitigation policy and an ESA compensatory mitigation policy. NACD has expressed its concerns with the revision and ESA mitigation policies through public comments.

Section 5 of Zinke’s Order 3349 lays out a review schedule for DOI agency action related to these rescinded orders:

  • Within 14 days (by April 12), all actions to be reviewed will be identified by DOI agencies.
  • Within 30 days (by April 28), the DOI deputy secretary will determine which of these actions need to be reconsidered.
  • Within 90 days (by June 27), for those actions required to be reconsidered, each DOI agency will submit a revised or substitute action for review by the DOI deputy secretary.

NACD is monitoring the review process triggered by these orders and will keep districts informed as relevant action takes place. For more information on NACD’s comments on mitigation, head to our Newsroom for press releasesletters, and comments.

Chris Heck, NACD government affairs associate, can be reached by email at

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