The Bureau of Land Management’s website main photo used to show a stock-y image of a happy family enjoying nature. But sometime since Wednesday, the image transformed from that to a huge pile of coal.
At first glance, the bleak new image might look like the work of rogue government employees similar to hacked social accounts after President Donald Trump’s inauguration. But in this case, it’s probably not. After all, while the National Park Service preserves the land under its control, BLM land is often used for energy and mineral extraction. Therefore, this change is most likely intended to signal the federal government’s support for increased coal extraction, something that even the coal industry says is more complicated than the president seems to think.
The Department of the Interior, which oversees the BLM, also administers the National Park Service. The BLM is, admittedly, the less charismatic of the two groups, but it’s quietly one of the most important conservation agencies in the U.S., responsible for hundreds of millions of acres across the country.
President Donald Trump won the 2016 election, in no small part, by running a campaign that stoked populist rage and dissatisfaction, particularly around the manufacturing sector and promising to bring American manufacturing jobs back. One of the big points he hammered home repeatedly was that he’d get rid of Obama-era regulations that stifled coal production. His basic idea is wrong, both because President Barack Obama didn’t kill the coal industry and because rolling back regulations won’t restore jobs in the industry.
But those facts don’t matter. The administration is moving ahead with these plans anyway. And this new change in the Bureau of Land Management’s website is evidence that the new administration is now presenting a more unified message across departments, no matter what the facts are.