By Scott Smith 

Funded by the right-wing Heritage Foundation and fleshed out by a slew of conservative policy analysts and officials from other far-right organizations, Project 2025 presents an exhaustive blueprint for how to reshape the federal government starting next year. 

Here are some specific policies proposed by Project 2025 as they relate to issues that Friends of Animals and its many members care most deeply about—the protection of wildlife and their habitats throughout the world, with veganism at the core of our animal advocacy. Through its educational campaigns, FoA also addresses the biggest contributors to climate change caused by human activity—deforestation, animal agriculture and fossil fuels. 

“The side we take is to defend the rights of nonhuman animals, both domestic and free-living, and to free them from cruelty and institutionalized exploitation,” says Friends of Animals’ longtime president, Priscilla Feral. “It’s our obligation to expose the project’s goals for selling public lands to the highest bidder and to treat wild horses and other wildlife as inconvenient.”   

Gutting the ‘Mother of Departments’ 

As Maya Angelou once sagely said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”  

So let’s take a look at Project 2025’s section on the Department of the Interior, which oversees “more than 500 million acres of federal lands, including national parks and national wildlife refuges; 700 million acres of sub-surface minerals; 1.7 billion acres of the Outer Continental Shelf; 23 percent of the nation’s energy; water in 17 western states; and trust responsibilities for 566 Indian tribes and Alaska Natives.”  

The principal author of the chapter, which begins on page 517 of the 920-page report, is William Perry Pendley. During the Reagan Administration, he was Deputy Interior Secretary for Energy and Minerals under the infamous James G. Watt. Pendley lost that job in 1984 after a federal commission faulted him for being part of a scheme to underprice coal-mining leases in the Powder River Basin, the largest such federal sale/giveaway in history. 

Or you may remember Pendley for his support of Cliven Bundy, the reprobate Nevada rancher who fought to abolish federal law enforcement on Western public lands as a leader of an anti-public-lands movement known as the Sagebrush Rebellion.  That’s why you may know Pendley for his anti-government Twitter handle, @SagebrushRebel. 

In July 2019, Pendley was appointed by Trump as acting director of the Bureau of Land Management, one of a number of lackeys carrying out official duties even though never confirmed by the Senate. He was ultimately blocked from continuing when a U.S. District Judge ruled in September 2020 that Pendley had served unlawfully for 424 days. Pendley refused to acknowledge the ruling and was moved by Trump to another role that was not the directorship. 

More recently, Pendley authored an opinion piece advocating for the sale of public lands. He’s got his eye on federal land in the Las Vegas area, undeveloped open space that he argues could help solve the housing crisis. That’s like giving a gambling addict who’s blown through their savings an open credit line to your bank account.  

As the Huffington Post reported, “Pendley’s dream for the more than 500 million acres of federal land that the Interior Department manages is to effectively turn them into a playground for extractive industries.” 

Some further key causes of concern over Pendley and his cohorts as spelled out by Project 2025, among many: 

Wild Horses 

Claiming that the 95,000 federally protected wild horses living free in their native homes on public land in the West are “triple what scientists and land management experts say the range can support,” Pendley supports the current BLM eradication policies of expanded adoptions and sales of horses; increased roundups and increased capacity for long-range holding facilities; more effective chemical sterilants; and other strategies aimed at removing wild horses from public lands. 

“All of that will not be enough to solve the problem, however,” Pendley argues. “Congress must enact laws permitting the BLM to dispose humanely of these animals.” 

Endangered Species Act 

Arguing that the ESA’s track record is “dismal,” Pendley proposes to gut its protections and turn over enforcement responsibilities to the very states who seek to destroy wildlife populations, specifically: 

  • Delist the grizzly bear in the Greater Yellowstone and Northern Continental Divide Ecosystems; 
  • Delist the gray wolf in the lower 48 states; 
  • Cede to western states jurisdiction over the greater sage-grouse…preventing use of the sage-grouse to interfere with public access to public land and economic activity. 

Plundering Alaska  

Project 2025 promises to usher in a new era of wholesale fossil-fuel extraction on land and at sea, with offshore oil and natural gas lease sales conducted at “the maximum extent permitted under the 2023–2028 lease program.” Eying Alaska’s “untapped potential for increased oil production” and “untapped mineral potential,” as well as its abundant wildlife to exploit, Project 2025 seeks to the next administration to immediately take the following actions there: 

  • Approve the 2020 Willow EIS, the largest pending oil and gas projection in the United States in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska; 
  • Lift the suspension of oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; 
  • Approve the Ambler Road Project, permitting construction of a new 211-mile roadway on the south side of the Brooks Range and opening the area only to mining-related industrial uses; 
  • Reinstate the previous administration’s 2020 Alaska Roadless Rule for the Tongass National Forest in Alaska, which would allow large-scale logging of old-growth forest; 
  • Revoke National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rules regarding predator control and bear baiting. 

The list of horrors goes on and on, from an end to support for electric vehicles to a threat to limit First Amendment protections for public gatherings and dissent, not to mention a continued attack on voting rights.  

“The insane, reactionary battle plan to plunder public lands and dismantle protections is ready to go,” says FoA’s Priscilla Feral. “The threat to wildlife, the environment and our basic freedoms as a democracy that Project 2025 sets out in stark terms couldn’t be more real.”