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One thing nobody will ever accuse the Trump Administration of: Subtlety. That would explain the new image across the top of the Bureau of Land Management's website, a photo from mining company Peabody Energy of "an 80 foot coal seam at the North Antelope Rochelle open cut coal mine" in Wyoming. It's a significant change for the agency that manages public lands; in the recent past, the site featured a bunch of lame photos of nature and hiking and stuff, which are for pussies, and more importantly don't make anyone rich. Just look at these lame examples from January 2017, August 2016, and way back in 2010 (they used that snow-covered butte background for ages):

BLM is responsible for a whole bunch of things, including most federal lands that aren't national parks or forests (which have their own agencies under the Interior Department. [Correction: The Forest Service, several people have noted, is under the Department of Agriculture. So are food stamps...so maybe the poors can be sent out to forage for themselves!]). BLM is, of course, the same freedom-hating agency that insisted Cliven Bundy pay a grazing fee in order for his feral cattle to wander all over Nevada rangeland even though (in Bundy's head) it's illegal for the federal government to own any land other than military bases and the District of Columbia. So maybe it makes sense, as protective camouflage, for the agency to switch its homepage image to something that better reflects what the Trump administration thinks public land is good for.

The BLM insists there's nothing seamy about that photo of a beautiful bituminous bluff, no, not at all! New Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's boner for extraction industries has nothing to do with it! It's just reflecting one of the many missions BLM has, you see:

Bureau spokeswoman Kristen Lenhardt on Thursday denied the timing of the photo swap is connected to the administration's push to promote coal mining. She said the home page photo will now be changed weekly. She said the coal mine photo was already set to be replaced Friday with a new image "reflecting recreation on public lands."

"As part of the BLM's transition to a new website design, we will be regularly rotating the banner with photos that reflect the many uses our public lands have to offer," Lenhardt said.

Sure enough, by Friday afternoon, the BLM website's header photo showed an angler in a stream (Surprise! He'll have to throw the fish back because of mercury poisoning.)

The rotating photo policy doesn't seem to have convinced those tree-hugging environmentalists; Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune said,

What more evidence do you need that the Trump administration wants to pave paradise to put up a coal mine? [...] They are literally trading a photo of families enjoying our most cherished landscapes for a pile of coal. This is one of the most obvious signs yet that they are putting the profits of corporate polluters before the public.

Yeesh, such easily upset snowflakes! Next they'll be saying this is somehow of a piece with the Trump administration's repeal of rules prohibiting dumping mine waste into creeks, or the effort to kill off Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan, or EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's decision to approve a pesticide the EPA's own scientists recommended banning because it could be toxic to farm workers and children. It's all just a coincidence, and soon there will be other photos highlighting BLM's many missions, like pics of hikers, off-roaders, and maybe for good measure some action shots of cows shitting in a creek.

Sadly for Donald Trump, it's looking like even with the exciting new BLM webpage, the American electric companies that are supposed to start snapping up all those new coal supplies simply aren't interested -- not because the electric utilities have been taken over by radical environmentalists, but because compared to coal, cleaner natural gas and even wind power are far more competitively priced. Also, the utility companies seem reluctant to go whole hog on coal because they expect the Trump enthusiasm for coal to be a blip in longterm energy policies, and utility managers are betting that a future administration is likely to impose limits on carbon production again. Something about real business people paying attention to long-term trends, we guess. That, or they just hate Freedom.

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[NYT / Mashable / NPR / Ars Technica / NYT]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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