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A New Day Dawning? Regional and Compensatory Mitigation on Public Lands

Marcilynn A. Burke, Proceedings of 60th Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute (2014)

As the Obama Administration continues to implement its “all-of-the-above” energy strategy,1 the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) continues to grapple with its multiple responsibilities for this strategy. It has labored to support energy development and address its impacts on natural, cultural, historical, and scenic resources and values. Traditionally bureaus within DOI have worked to avoid and minimize impacts, though they have had policies for off-site mitigation and conservation banking for some time.2 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) [26-3] general guidance on mitigation banking has been available for almost two decades.3 The bureaus, however, have not developed a comprehensive approach to compensatory mitigation. They also have not focused previously upon landscape-level impacts and compensatory mitigation on a landscape-scale.
Yet, for quite some time, the leaders within DOI have supported landscape-level approaches to conservation. During the Obama Administration, such initiatives have included the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCC), which are applied conservation science partnerships designed to inform conservation efforts on a landscape scale.4 Former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar also directed DOI's bureaus to develop landscape-level strategies for understanding and responding to climate c