Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Reid / Abbey Connection

Who Is Bob Abbey?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009 Confirmed on August 6, 2009, President Obama's
Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is a twenty-five year veteran of
the agency who was put forward for the position by Democratic Senator Harry Reid
of Nevada, the powerful Senate Majority Leader. Although his nomination was
stalled by Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, who was pressuring the
administration to support a controversial copper mine proposed for a national
forest in his state, McCain eventually relented. Located within the US
Department of the Interior, BLM is responsible for managing the United States'
public lands. BLM oversees the use and conservation of 258 million acres, most
of which are located in the American West and Alaska. A key responsibility of
BLM is the issuance of leases to corporate interests to extract oil, natural gas
and minerals from beneath public lands. This natural resource development, in
effect since the 19th century, has left wide areas of American wilderness
damaged by the effects of drilling and mining and provoked protests from
environmental groups opposed to future oil, gas and mining activities in
sensitive areas.

Born circa 1951 in Clarksdale, Mississippi, Abbey is a 1969 graduate of
Clarksdale High School. He went on to earn a B.S. in Resource Management from
the University of Southern Mississippi in 1973.

Abbey spent more than 32 years in public service, working with state and federal
land management agencies before retiring from the federal government in July
2005. Straight out of college, Abbey took a job with the Mississippi State Park
system, where he worked for more than four years before accepting a position
with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the Waterways Experiment Station in
Vicksburg, Mississippi. In that job, he first interacted with the BLM, to which
he soon applied for a job. Abbey was hired by BLM in 1980 for a position in its
Casper, Wyoming, field office. Between 1980 and 1992, Abbey worked there, moving
on to positions as assistant district manager in Yuma, Arizona and as budget
analyst in Washington, D.C. In 1992, Abbey was promoted to head of the Jackson,
Mississippi, field office, where he remained into 1995, when he was named acting
state BLM director in Colorado, where he served from 1995 through 1997. From
1997 to 2005, Abbey served as the Nevada State Director for BLM, providing
oversight for 48 million acres of public land managed by the bureau in the
state. He oversaw a staff of 750 employees and managed an annual budget of $51
million. While in Nevada, Abbey was the principal BLM proponent for the Great
Basin Restoration Initiative, a plan to restore North America's largest desert
to its original state by removing invasive plant species and making other
changes. One anti-environmental stain on Abbey's record, which no one raised
during his confirmation process, was a federal administrative law judge ruling
that Abbey had, in October 2004, illegally dismissed a manager overseeing the
cleanup of an abandoned copper mine for pursuing worker safety, radiation, and
air and water pollution violations. The decision was affirmed on appeal.

Abbey retired in July 2005, after which he became a partner in a private
consulting firm called Abbey, Stubbs, & Ford, LLC, which had offices in Las
Vegas and Reno, Nevada. He also served as a member of the University of Nevada
College of Agriculture Dean's Advisory Committee and as a board member on
several statewide and national non-profit organizations, including Friends of
Nevada Wilderness. Further, Abbey joined and became active in several
environmental groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, Public
Employees for Environmental Responsibility and Rangers for Responsible
Recreation. His post-retirement criticism of the environmental damage caused by
off-road vehicles stirred the ire of some who advocate such activities on public

Abbey and his wife Linda have been married for 32 years and currently reside in
Reno, Nevada. They have one daughter, Leigh.
- Matt Bewig

Testimony Before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Off-Highway Vehicle Group Expresses Concern Over Obama BLM Pick
Statement of Robert Abbey to House Committee on Natural Resources (PDF)
Dixon v. BLM, Recommended Decision and Order (PDF)
Nothing Positive in Mining Bill (op-ed by Bob Abbey)
Nevada BLM Cleans Out Cleanup Project Manager (by Laura Paskus, High Country
Bureau of Land Management (AllGov)


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