The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is continually faced with a range of problems as a result of diverse and dynamic environmental influences. Because of the rising population rise, the West’s growth and urbanization movement, the issue of “Unlimited” resource demands vs “Limited” resource supplies, and other causes. BLM is constantly monitoring and reviewing their success in maintaining 254 million acres of US soil, as well as their ability to respond to Social, Economic, Political, Technological, Legal, and Environmental developments in a timely and appropriate manner (Koontz & Bodine, 2008). Therefore, based on the U.S. Department of interior’s press release that includes a reform plan for safer, sustainable, and ecological energy, and lining with President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced a new rule. The law seeks to reduce the hydrocarbon emission via obliging gas and oil companies to control the air pollution ensued from flaring process from their operation on the public land.
The U.S. Secretary of Interior said that “This rule to prevent waste of our nation’s natural gas supplies is a good government, plain and straightforward.” And he continued “We are proving that we can cut harmful methane emissions that contribute to climate change while putting in place standards that make good economic sense for the nation (Koontz & Bodine, 2008, p. 62). Not only will we save more natural gas to power our nation, but we will modernize decades-old standards to keep pace with industry and to ensure a fair return to the American taxpayers for the use of a valuable resource that belongs to all of us.” Although the vast majority of the Americans agree on the importance of having a cleaner and less polluted environment yet they believe that this rule will come at a cost. The Majority partisan congressional group (The Republicans) seems to be unhappy with this rule and will do anything in favor to drop the rule unlike the Democrats and Obama Administration who fought for many years to design, plan and implement this law.
Based on Huber, John, and Charles (2000), both Parties may decide to either challenge or defend (Support) the rule of the BLM. They may do so by writing letters, submit comments, give a speech, introduce a bill, and challenge/defend the BLM rule during the oversight hearing which they considered as the most common methods of actions. Such tactics implemented by legislators will force the agency to be more responsive at the expense of their public reputation (Carpenter, 2001). However, Arnold (1990), argued that on the individual aspect it is motivationally inadequate due to what he called “Weak Traceability”, because assuming that BLM responded to a specific congressional party or a legislator’s modification demands in the rule for their favor, BLM can only claim credits for the outcomes.
Based on the observations, one would believe that the Republicans are seriously willing to overthrow the rule of BLM at all costs. Furthermore, Schlozman and Tierney (1986), argued about the vital role that the interest groups play in such a lobby, which includes supplementing “valued information and assistance” (1986, 300). Some of the potential interest groups that may oppose this rule are listed in the table below and not limited to:
Legislators and Government Officials
Western Energy Alliance
States Especially Western States
American Exploration and Mining Association
House of Senates Members Especially Republicans (Majority Group)
Independent Petroleum Association of America
House of Representatives Members Especially Republicans (Majority Group)
Petroleum Association of Wyoming
Western Energy Alliance
The American Chemistry Council
New Mexico Oil and Gas Association
Concerned Federal Agencies
The BLM rule challengers may adopt different counter arguments during the oversight hearing, for instance:
The negative impact of applying the rule on the oil industry and how it’s going to hinder the growth of energy production due to constraints stated in the law which will result in bad economic conditions and loss of job opportunities.
Ignoring inputs of the rule stakeholders and locals (states and counties) by BLM during the rule planning process.
Claim that BLM unlawfully exceeded their statutory authority under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act 1976.
The rule challengers’ lobby who participated in the rule-planning process may claim that BLM ignored their comments and proposals.
The interest groups can influence the committee. The form of impacts they can bring the board can be through various tactics which include;
The interest groups are always interested in lobbying the overseers who are likely to present their interests and ignore those members who oppose their views (Hall & Deardorff, 2006).
Some of the interest groups are always the lobbyist who will only lobby their legislative allies, and the more they have many allies, the more they impact on the committee’s decision.
The groups can also provide the legislator who is the committee members with valuable information and assistance. According to Banks and Weingast (1992), the teams monitor the activities of the agency and provide secret information on the effects of the policy and they ensure that they convince the committee members that to take a position consistent to theirs.
They can also intervene whenever they feel that the committee members have limited capacity to supervise the agency, BLM (Huber & Shipan, 2000). The groups could be alerted that BLM is planning to formulate rules and would oppose the move when they feel that the outcome will not be desirable.
Interest groups can sound an alarm in a committee when they predict that the new rules may negatively impact on their welfare. Therefore, they play an important role but may at times misunderstand the roles of oversight as they mostly fight for their own interest. They only sound an alarm when they feel that the agency is likely to harm them (McCubbins & Schwartz, 1984). Interest groups can selectively subsidize the interventions of a committee hence interfering with the decision making process.
Arnold, D. (1990). The Logic of Congressional Action New Haven: Yale U.
Banks, J. S., & Weingast, B. R. (1992). The political control of bureaucracies under asymmetric information. American Journal of Political Science, 509-524.
Carpenter, D. P. (2001). The forging of bureaucratic autonomy: Reputations, networks, and policy innovation in executive agencies, 1862-1928. Princeton University Press.
Huber, J. D., & Shipan, C. R. (2000). The costs of control: Legislators, agencies, and transaction costs. Legislative Studies Quarterly, 25-52.
Koontz, T. M., & Bodine, J. (2008). Implementing ecosystem management in public agencies: lessons from the US Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service. Conservation Biology, 22(1), 60-69.
McCubbins, M. D., & Schwartz, T. (1984). Congressional oversight overlooked: Police patrols versus fire alarms. American Journal of Political Science, 165-179.
Schlozman, K. L., & Tierney, J. T. (1986). Organized interests and American democracy. Harpercollins College Div.