: Photo from Wikimedia Commons / Author of Photo: Bureau of Land Management / Source of Photo: https://www.blm.gov/bio/tracy-stone-manning

Tracy Stone-Manning

  • Tracy Stone-Manning was born on September 18, 1965. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Radio, Television, and Film from the University of Maryland in 1987, and a Master of Science degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana in 1992. Since 1990, Stone-Manning has been married to the radical environmentalist Richard Manning.[1] […]
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Tracy Stone-Manning was born on September 18, 1965. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Radio, Television, and Film from the University of Maryland in 1987, and a Master of Science degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana in 1992. Since 1990, Stone-Manning has been married to the radical environmentalist Richard Manning.[1]

During her years as a graduate student in the late 1980s, Stone-Manning was involved with “ecoterrorism” and its related tactics such as tree spiking, an illegal practice by which environmental extremists seek to prevent the logging of trees by driving long metal or ceramic spikes into them. Officially outlawed by the federal government since 1988, tree spiking can be extremely harmful or even deadly to loggers.

When she was 23 years old, Stone-Manning sent an anonymous letter to the U.S. Forest Service warning of metal spikes that she and her comrades had recently driven into a large number of trees at Idaho’s Clearwater National Forest. The letter said, in part: “This letter is being sent to notify you that the [forest] has been spiked heavily. The reasoning for this action is that this piece of land is very special to the earth. It is home to the Elk, Deer, Mountain Lions, Birds, and especially the Trees. The project required that eleven of us spend nine days in God awful weather conditions spiking trees. We unloaded a total of 500 pounds of spikes measuring 8 to 10 inches in length…. You bastards go in there anyway and a lot of people could get hurt.”

In 1993, two friends of Stone-Manning were convicted for their involvement in the Idaho tree-spiking incident. Stone-Manning, however, was given immunity and testified against the pair. Although she was subpoenaed to provide hair and fingerprint samples to a grand jury shortly after the initial tree spiking, Stone-Manning denies that she has ever been criminally investigated for the matter. She also maintains that she was never even involved in it, claiming that she only sent the letter to the Forest Service because she “didn’t want anyone getting hurt.” But her claim is contradicted by another letter, released by Republican Senator John Barrasso in July 2021, in which retired investigator Michael Merkley alleges that Stone-Manning, prior to receiving her immunity deal, was sent a “target letter” informing her that she was going to be indicted. Stone-Manning’s claim is further contradicted by the fact that she herself was quoted in a 1990 news article condemning the “degrading” treatment she had received from FBI agents during their investigation.

Stone-Manning was also a member – from at least 1989-1991 — of the radical environmentalist organization Earth First! (EF). She edited a 1991 issue of an EF journal (titled Earth First!) which mocked federal authorities for having been unable to yet solve the 1989 tree-spiking case. That same issue of the EF journal, which proudly declared the organization’s position that “We do not accept the authority of the hierarchical state,” also featured articles stating variously that: (a) “the way to put an end to institutional war is to eliminate institutions”; (b) “the population problem” could be solved by using loaded guns for “target practice” against members of “corporate America”; and (c) an effective way to close down a Forest Service road is to “go out with a bunch of your friends and pull branches and slash [debris] across a road for as long a distance as you can … [and] roll some boulders across, dig holes, and generally make it impassable.”

According to Michael Merkley, Stone-Manning “was not only a member of Earth First!, but she played an active role in Earth First! hierarchy” and “wielded significant influence among its members.” Merkley also said that Stone-Manning “was not an innocent bystander” in the 1989 tree-spiking crime, and that she had refused to cooperate with, or testify truthfully to, the grand jury investigation regarding her role in that crime. Merkley described the woman as “extremely difficult to work with; in fact, she was the nastiest of the suspects. She was vulgar, antagonistic, and extremely anti-government.”

In her 1992 master’s thesis, Stone-Manning advocated for population control, in part, by creating eight separate advertisements underscoring the collective threat that “overpopulation,” overgrazing, and the corporate timber industry posed to the environment. “The origin of our abuses is us,” she wrote. “If there were fewer of us, we would have less impact…. We must consume less, and more importantly, we must breed fewer consuming humans.”

  • One of the ads that Stone-Manning promoted in her thesis featured a photo of a child with a caption that read, “Can you find the environmental hazard in this photo?” “That’s right, it’s the cute baby,” the ad continued under the picture. “Americans believe that overpopulation is only a problem somewhere else in the world. But it’s a problem here too.. The earth is only so big, and we can tap into it only so often. In America, we tap in often and hard. When we overpopulate, the earth notices it more. Stop at two [children per family]. It could be the best thing you do for the planet.”
  • Also in her thesis, Stone-Manning wrote a script for a 30-second television ad in which an upper-middle-class American mother of two, contemplating what it might be like to have a third child, says: “I know it would be my third baby, but there’s not a population problem here like in Africa or India … and besides, smart people like Bob and me should be the people having kids.” The script then cuts to a video montage of smokestacks, dams, traffic jams, and landfills while a female voiceover says: “A child born in America will burn 499 times more energy than a child born in Ethiopia. And each year, Americans add 2 million energy-eating humans to the earth. We consume one quarter of all the world’s resources, simply by living as Americans. When we have children, the planet feels it more. Do the truly smart thing. Stop at one or two kids.”

“The point is a simple one,” Stone-Manning wrote in her thesis. “Harshly, the ads say that the earth can’t afford Americans. More softly, they ask people to think about how their family planning choices affect the planet.”

Following her graduation from the University of Montana in 1992, Stone-Manning worked for a Montana-based environmental protection organization called the Five Valleys Land Trust. From 1994-1998, her primary duties were as a media consultant and freelance writer.

From 1998-1999, Stone-Manning was an editor for a publication called Headwater News.

In 1999, Stone-Manning joined another Montana environmental group called the Clark Fork Coalition, where she would serve a stint as its Executive Director prior to her departure in 2007.

Stone-Manning then worked as a Regional Director for Montana’s Democratic U.S. Senator, Raymond “Jon” Tester, from 2007-2012. At one point, she was Tester’s acting State Staff Director and Senior Advisor.

Following her nomination by Montana’s Democratic Governor, Steve Bullock, Stone-Manning served as Director of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality from 2013-2014. She then worked as the governor’s Chief of Staff from 2014-2017.

In 2017, Stone-Manning became the Associate Vice President for Public Lands at the National Wildlife Federation. She went on to serve as NWF’s Senior Advisor for Conservation Policy before leaving the organization in 2021.

In June 2020, Stone-Manning requested that the University of Montana restrict online access to her aforementioned 1992 master’s thesis. The very next day, the university web page where the thesis had long been accessible to the public, was made “only available to users affiliated with the University of Montana.”

Speaking on behalf of the National Wildlife Federation before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources in March 2021, Stone-Manning testified that “our public lands are in trouble,” and she advocated for a number of reforms, particularly in the form of limits to oil and gas exploration and production. Describing former President Trump’s “so-called energy dominance agenda” as problematic, she noted that the Trump “Administration’s approach to managing our public lands has highlighted the importance of these reforms.” Consistent with that view, Stone-Manning called for the Joe Biden Administration to place a “temporary pause” on its approval of new leases for oil and gas drilling – describing this as a “modest and reasonable approach [designed] to assess reforms to the oil and gas program specifically and in the context of the competing needs of our public lands.” In hope of being able to “restore balanced management to our public lands and to drive down carbon emissions from them,” Stone-Manning urged Congress to pass several specific pieces of legislation, about which she said the following:

  • Methane Waste Prevention Act of 2021: “[It] will curb methane gas emissions. The previous administration rolled back BLM [Bureau of Land Management] regulations designed to reduce methane venting, flaring and leaks from oil and gas operations on public and tribal lands and weakened EPA regulations establishing methane leak inspection and repair requirements for oil and gas operations. The Methane Waste Prevention Act of 2021 will reverse these harmful actions and update the 2016 BLM and EPA standards. Without these steps, methane emissions could increase by nearly 1.6 million tons by 2025, and the country could waste over $1 billion worth of valuable natural gas.”
  • Restoring Community Input and Public Protection in Oil and Gas Leasing Act: “[It] will modernize fiscal policies by eliminating non-competitive leasing, increasing royalty rates, rental fees, and minimum bid amounts. It will also eliminate actions taken by the Trump administration to limit environmental review of oil and gas lease sales and to cut public participation in oil and gas leasing decisions. It is an important step towards preventing future administrations from taking similar actions at the cost of our public lands. Finally, it will improve protections for surface owners, and it will increase needed transparency by notifying the public of the companies that nominate and bid on oil and gas leases.”
  • Bonding Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act of 2021: “[It] will ensure that all [oil and gas] wells are properly reclaimed, that the American taxpayer is not responsible for these costs, and that local communities do not suffer from the health, safety, and environmental risks posed by un-reclaimed wells.”
  • Transparency in Energy Production Act of 2021: “[It] will give the American people information about emissions that come from drilling on the land or in the water.”
  • Ending Taxpayer Welfare for Oil and Gas Companies Act of 2021: “[It] will … work towards modernizing fiscal policies by raising royalties, rental rates, inspection fees, and penalties on oil and gas companies that extract resources from public lands. The bill will also address issues with methane emissions by requiring natural gas companies to pay for all methane they take out of the ground, including gas burned for fuel on-site, and wasted through leaks, venting, and flaring.”

Stone-Manning claimed that such “common-sense reforms would go a long way to ensuring [that] the oil and gas program catches up to the 21st Century.”

On April 22, 2021, President Biden nominated Stone-Manning for the position of Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a federal agency within the Department of the Interior that is responsible for administering nearly 250 million acres of federal land and plays a key role in regulating energy production on public lands.

Stone-Manning’s nomination came under scrutiny when reports surfaced about her aforementioned involvement with ecoterrorism and radicalism in the late 1980s. But on September 30, 2021, she was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in a 50-45 party-line vote. She assumed the office of BLM Director on October 7, 2021.

Footnotes

  1. In his 2005 book Against the Grain: How Agriculture Has Hijacked Civilization, Richard Manning called for the termination of large-scale modern agriculture. On one occasion, he said: “If the human endeavor takes as its primary reason for being the feeding of however many people issue from senseless acts of reproduction, then the human endeavor is pointless.”

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