America's environmental agencies have made an about-face since Donald Trump became president—and not just policy-wise.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), an Interior Department agency that manages 247.3 million acres of public lands, used to have a spectacular Flickr page. And by that, I mean it was the go-to destination for exquisite photos of our country's wildest vistas.
But in a blog post today, The Wilderness Society (full disclosure: I worked there between 2013 and 2014), a national conservation nonprofit, noticed something strange. As of March this year, the BLM was no longer posting images of rivers, forests, deserts, and mountains. Instead, its Flickr page now exclusively shares portraits of oil wells, mining pits, and construction—the kind of development that stands to devastate the very places the agency exists to protect.
"The Bureau of Land Management's Flickr page, long a repository of gorgeous parks and public lands photos, appears to have a new focus: coal, oil and other fossil fuels," wrote The Wilderness Society.
This is no doubt a result of our new administration's pro-fossil fuel energy strategy. Trump has been a vocal proponent of coal, despite market indications that coal will soon bottom out. From 2015 to 2016, he received $820,922 in campaign funding from fossil fuel interests (still, his political opponent, Hillary Clinton, received slightly more).
On a Cabinet level, Trump's appointees are similarly positioned. Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, is notoriously corrupted by energy corporations. And Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, whose purview includes the BLM, has previously advocated for more drilling on public lands.
Since Trump's inauguration, public lands have been caught in the GOP's crosshairs. Republicans in Congress have removed important land protections and limited public involvement in environmental decision-making processes.
In an executive order this week, Trump threatened to undo certain national monument designations—an act that would be catastrophic not only for America's wildlands, but for rural communities as well.
"They've set a high standard for public input, and the clock is ticking now," Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) said in a statement. "I'm concerned that Republican rhetoric on our public lands is being taken for fact and that Secretary Zinke is being set up for failure here."
Hopefully, the state of the BLM's Flickr page isn't a harbinger of what's to come.