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Deputy Director of Programs and Policy, Bureau of Land Management

Brian Steed is serving as the deputy director of programs and policy at the Bureau of Land Management. Steed “is expected to help the agency carry out Trump administration priorities, including increasing oil and gas drilling and mining activities on federal lands” and will likely “be heavily involved in the ongoing effort by the Interior Department to reorganize BLM and other agencies.”

Brian Steed, the longtime Chief of Staff for federal land transfer advocate Rep. Chris Stewart, is a former lawyer who chose to leave Utah to work in the swamp of Washington D.C. Steed began his career as the Deputy County Attorney for Iron County, Utah. Next, from January 2009 to December 2011, Stewart taught at Utah State University, which has taken more than $26 million from oil billionaire Charles Koch’s foundation. While at USU, Steed also published studies on public lands, including a study alleging wilderness designations “‘impose costs on local economies’” and another that claimed Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument reduced economic growth in Kane and Garfield counties. Steed has also touted the potential of oil and coal development within Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. In October 2011, Steed began working in politics as Congressman Chris Stewart’s campaign manager, and, beginning in 2013, worked on Capitol Hill as Stewart’s Chief of Staff.

Sources: [Scott Streater, “Former Utah Hill aide named deputy director,” Energy & Environment, 10/04/17, LinkedIn Profile for Brian Steed, accessed 10/30/17, Randy T. Simmons, Brian Steed, Ryan M. Yonk, “Politics, Economics, and Federal Land Designation: Assess the Economic Impact of Land Protection- Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument,” Utah State University, 12/19/11, Peter Goodman, “Their View: Permanent Organ Mountain protection would increase jobs,” Las Cruces Sun-News, 02/19/12, Brian Steed, “H.R. 41, H.R. 113, H.R. 490, H.R. 608, H.R. 977, H.R. 1126, H.R. 1413 and H.R. 2050,” Hearing of House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, 10/25/11, and Benjamin Wood, “Huntsman family, Koch foundation give combined $50 million gift to Utah State University’s business school,” Salt Lake Tribune, 05/06/17]

Special Interests

Federal Land Action Group (Political Extremism)

Steed was Rep. Chris Stewart's Chief of Staff. Stewart was one of the two founding members of the Federal Land Action Group, which is "committed to developing a legislative framework for transferring federal lands to local ownership and control."

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also connected to:

Koch Industries (Resource Development on Public Lands)

Brian Steed taught and published studies at Utah State University, which has taken in more than $25 million from the foundation of Koch Industries CEO Charles Koch.

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also connected to:

Background Information

Previous Employers

Representative Chris Stewart, United States House of Representatives

Chris Stewart for Congress

Iron County, Utah

Utah State University

Additional Background on Employers of Note:

In 2011, Brian Steed co-authored a study attacking the designation of Grand Staircase-Escalante as a National Monument. In the study, Steed claimed the monument designation reduced economic growth in Kane and Garfield counties “by an estimated $146 million,” but admitted at the end that all three economic indicators they used “do not necessarily represent” the real economic conditions in Kane and Garfield counties. Economist Ray Rasker, whom Steed cited in congressional testimony, said the study’s statistical model “‘made no sense at all’ and called some of their conclusions ‘nonsense.’”

In 2011, Brian Steed co-authored a paper at Utah State University claiming the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument designation “reduced the decade-to-decade growth in total nonfarm payrolls by an estimated $146 million, and no statistically significant effect on per capita income or tax receipts.”

In the paper, Steed argued conservationists and monument advocates “have failed to evaluate and understand the data fully – we do not find evidence supporting [the claim that conservation-driven protection designation also improves economic conditions], and find some evidence to the contrary.”

Steed continued, “We also note that the three economic indicators we used do not necessarily represent the final word on whether or not the GSENM was good or not for the counties of Kane and Garfield counties. It may be that the effects take decades to realize, or that there are other demographic and economic indicators affected in a way that our analysis does not take into account. IRS, state income tax data, building permit data, or additional demographic indicators would paint a much more complete picture.” [Randy T. Simmons, Brian Steed, Ryan M. Yonk, “Politics, Economics, and Federal Land Designation: Assess the Economic Impact of Land Protection- Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument,” Utah State University, 12/19/11]

Economist Ray Rasker, who “was cited in Steed’s testimony, said of Steed’s group, ‘their statistical model made no sense at all’ and called some of their conclusions ‘nonsense.'” [Peter Goodman, “Their View: Permanent Organ Mountain protection would increase jobs,” Las Cruces Sun-News, 02/19/12]

In a congressional hearing in 2011, Brian Steed touted the potential of oil and coal development within Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

In 2011, Brian Steed testified in a hearing of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, where he claimed “the Grand Staircase contain[ed] a treasure trove of mineral deposits” including “an estimated 62 billion tons of coal” and “an estimated 270 million barrels of oil.” Brian Steed, “H.R. 41, H.R. 113, H.R. 490, H.R. 608, H.R. 977, H.R. 1126, H.R. 1413 and H.R. 2050,” Hearing of House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, 10/25/11]

In 2012, Brian Steed co-authored a paper claiming wilderness designations “‘impose costs on local economies'” and result in no “positive economic outcomes for local economies.”

In 2012, Brian Steed co-published a paper at Utah State University claiming there was “‘no evidence that wilderness land designations result in positive economic outcomes for local economies.’ Rather, wilderness designations ‘impose costs on local economies’ that call for the need to develop ‘a consensus-building approach to new wilderness area designations.'” [Scott Streater, “Former Utah Hill aide named deputy director,” Energy & Environment, 10/04/17]

In the paper, Steed co-wrote, “we find no evidence that wilderness land designations result in positive economic outcomes for local economies. Rather, our results suggest that formal wilderness designations accompany worse economic outcomes, particularly when considering median household income, total tax receipts, and total payroll payments.” [Ryan M. Yonk, Brian C. Steed, Randy T. Simmons, & R. Christopher Martin, “Boon or Bust: Wilderness Designation and Local Economies,” Journal of Private Enterprise, 04/30/12]

In 2013, Brian Steed co-authored a paper suggesting that wilderness designations force counties to raise property and sales taxes “to cover the costs” of Wilderness Lands.

In 2013, Brian Steed co-authored a paper at Utah State University suggesting that counties with Wilderness Designated Land may be raising local property tax rates “to cover the costs associated with the presence of Wilderness Lands.” “Because of the extra costs associated with having Wilderness Lands within a county, the counties are spending more on fire and protection, hospitals and health, and highways.”

“Although many say that the reason the property and sales taxes are higher in these counties is because of an influx of tourism and recreation, none of my tests looked at expenditures within the county as a reason for tax increases. Therefore, we infer that the reason there is an increase in tax revenue in counties with Wilderness Lands is because the counties have higher tax rates in these counties because the counties cost more money to function. The counties are bearing the costs of Wilderness by raising the tax rates within the county.” [Sarah Reale, Randy T. Simmons, Brian Steed, and Ryan M. Yonk, “Green Revenue? Local Governments and Wilderness Designation,” Utah State University, 05/03/13]

In addition to publishing a number of studies through USU, Brian Steed appears to be a current research fellow at the University. In the past few years, Utah State University has taken in more than $26 million from the foundation of oil billionaire Charles Koch, which “routinely cultivate[s] relationships with professors and deans and fund[s] specific courses of economic study pitched by them.”

Brian Steed, currently listed as a fellow at Utah State University’s Institute of Political Economy, has been an economics instructor and proposal development specialist at the Utah State University’s Jon M. Huntsman School of Business since 2010. [LinkedIn Profile for Brian Steed, accessed 10/26/17 and “Fellows,” Utah State University’s Institute of Political Economy, accessed 10/26/17]

In 2015, the Charles Koch Foundation made a “$1.5 million grant to USU” that “drew a backlash from a group of students seeking transparency on the arrangement.”

In 2017, the Charles Koch Foundation contributed $25 million to Utah State University’s business school. The Koch Foundation gift created new faculty positions, supported “faculty and student research,” and expanded “the Koch Scholars program, which offers academic stipends to a small group of students to attend weekly discussions on books and other curated materials.” [Benjamin Wood, “Huntsman family, Koch foundation give combined $50 million gift to Utah State University’s business school,” Salt Lake Tribune, 05/06/17]

Oil billionaires Charles and David Koch “routinely cultivate relationships with professors and deans and fund specific courses of economic study pitched by them.” [Dave Levinthal, “Spreading the Free-Market Gospel,” Atlantic, 10/30/15]

Brian Steed was the longtime Chief of Staff for federal land transfer advocate Rep. Chris Stewart.

Chris Stewart was one of the founding members of the Federal Land Action Group, which planned to “develop a legislative framework for transferring federal lands to local ownership and control.”

In 2017, Chris Stewart sponsored H.R. 2423, which would force the BLM to route a “4-mile transportation corridor through the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area” in Utah. [Chris Stewart, Press Release, 04/28/15, and Scott Streater, “Panel bickers over corridor for Utah BLM conservation area,” Energy & Environment, 05/24/17]

Political Connections

Brian Steed served as Chief of Staff for Rep. Chris Stewart since he was sworn into Congress in 2013 until October 2017. Steed also served as Stewart’s campaign manager during his first run for Congress in 2012.

[Bryan Schott, “Stewart’s chief of staff jumps to the BLM,” Utah Policy, 10/04/17]

Current Activity

  • Potential Conflict of Interest:

Brian Steed was Chief of Staff for Rep. Chris Stewart when he sponsored a bill that would force the BLM to route a “4-mile transportation corridor through the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area” in Utah.

In his new position as Deputy Director of Programs and Policy at the Bureau of Land Management, Steed is one of the top officials of the agency that, in May of 2017, his former boss tried to force to approve a transportation corridor going through a National Conservation Area. [Scott Streater, “Panel bickers over corridor for Utah BLM conservation area,” Energy & Environment, 05/24/17]

Other Information

In 2015, the International Conservation Caucus Foundation, an international conservation NGO, paid nearly $3,000 to send Brian Steed to Malawi, Africa, to visit conservation sites and meet with government officials.

In November 2015, the International Conservation Caucus Foundation paid $2987.45 to send Brian Steed to Malawi to meet with Malawian government officials and visit conservation sites, including multiple national parks and wildlife reserves. [“Brian C. Steed, Congressional Staffer – Privately Financed Travel,” Legistorm, accessed 10/25/17]

The International Conservation Caucus Foundation advocates for “market-based conservation solutions” and “works to educate U.S. policymakers on international conservation, using good science and models of public-private partnerships that invest in protecting biodiversity and natural resources. [“About Us,” International Conservation Caucus Foundation, accessed 10/25/17]

Brian Steed has raked in more than $615,000 from the federal government.

Since 2013, Brian Steed has made $615,450.62 in salary as Chief of Staff to Rep. Chris Stewart. [“Brian C. Steed, Congressional Staffer – Salary Data,” Legistorm, accessed 10/24/17]