Wyden, Merkley, Udall Urge Interior Department to Halt Policy Actions Unrelated to COVID-19

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Tom Udall, D-N.M., today urged the U.S. Department of Interior to immediately stop pursuing any policy proposals or actions unrelated to the COVID-19 emergency that require a public comment period until the threats of COVID-19 have subsided.

“As the country is addressing the public health emergency of COVID-19, the agencies within the Department of Interior should be focused on how to bolster the response to COVID-19 in communities across America, not push through policy with limited public input,” the senators wrote in a letter to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. “Americans should not be required to find and comment on the Department’s rule making, while they are experiencing major disruptions with childcare, employment, and safety. 

“The Department is also obligated to undertake tribal consultation for many of its decisions, a process which cannot effectively take place when Tribal governments are responding to the public health emergency. Under these circumstances, any policies put forward by the Department would not have the appropriate level of public input and the validity of such policy would be brought into question,” the senators continued.

A full copy of the letter can be found here.

A web version of this bill is here.