Burning Man Faces Existential Threat: EIS Deadline Approaching

Catching you up real quick, this is still true: the future of Black Rock City is at risk, and we need your continued support. Your insightful, articulate comments have been pouring in, and you’re making a difference. Scroll to the bottom of this post to see some examples of great comments that came through.

As you may recall, the Bureau of Land Management has recommended untenable changes to Burning Man’s event permit in the Draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS), analyzing the environmental impacts we need to mitigate should we decide to grow the event (note: there are no current plans to grow the event), which don’t factor in our 28-year operational track record and commitment to environmental protection, and could kill the event outright. The Wall Street Journal and Vanity Fair, among many others, took notice.

It’s up to our community to submit substantive comments to BLM, pushing back on (or supporting, if that’s how you feel) BLM’s flawed proposals, and the faulty assumptions underlying them. We’ve seen hundreds of excellent comments come in about a multitude of issues including the big ticket items like K-rail barriers, dumpsters, and (unconstitutional) vehicle searches at the gate. You’ve kind of blown our minds. Now we need your thoughts and comments on the other proposals, and we’re here pointing you in the right direction.

We should note that many of BLM’s recommendations are things BRC is doing already to be respectful stewards of the environment. In some cases, their proposals are measures we proposed in our permit application, like scaling up our environmental compliance team. A great many of the measures recommended by BLM are unreasonable, untenable, attempts to solve problems that don’t exist, and/or create new (and worse) problems. BLM didn’t even assess the environmental impacts from their own recommendations, a critical requirement of the National Environmental Policy Act.

We’ve included a quick list below of the mitigations we could still use your comments on. We’ve provided facts and background to give you context about how to best frame your comments. The devil’s in the details. Bad science in the special studies, monitoring requirements that aren’t supported by data, and a troubling lack of discussion about Burning Man’s successful 30-year operational history all are major problems with this Draft EIS. Let BLM know you disagree with their sloppy process and unsupported conclusions.

An important note about BLM’s monitoring wish list in Appendix E. Some of these are already in place, like safeguarding area hot springs and our notification if cultural resources are discovered. But each of the additional measures contemplates having BLM staff on the playa in an official capacity to watch your actions. 

Please submit comments by April 29, and cc: eis@burningman.org so our team is in the loop. Lastly, do respectfully reach out to your congressional representatives and let them know how you feel about BLM’s actions. The delegation in Nevada in particular cares about your perspective. Thanks! OK here’s the list:



Migratory Birds, Wildlife, Special Status Species, and Threatened and Endangered Species

Measure SPEC-3

The BLM or BLM-approved contractor will monitor dust aerosols during the Closure Order. The costs of BLM employee and contractor labor will be recouped via cost recovery from the proponent. 

Background:

It’s generally agreed that it’s dusty on the Black Rock Desert. The DEIS air quality study confirmed it’s dusty. We wonder what’s the point of spending time, energy and money on monitoring what’s entirely obvious to the naked eye. BLM hasn’t explained how this monitoring will do anything to protect migratory birds or wildlife. We’re not sure exactly what purpose this serves other than to waste money. 



Public Health and Safety

Measure PHS-1

The BLM will monitor illegal substance activity for the full duration of the Closure Order using contracted resources if necessary. The costs of BLM employee and contracted labor will be recouped via cost recovery from the proponent. 

Background:

Do you enjoy being under surveillance? This mitigation compels BLM surveillance during the event and during Burning Man’s pre-event and post-event operational activities, and thus presumes that NEPA affords BLM the legal authority to surveil a place of work on the presumption that working for Burning Man means you are a criminal, and during a special event on the presumption that your attendance requires “monitoring”. Do NEPA and the U.S. Constitution afford the BLM that legal authority? (Answer: no way.)


Measure PHS-5

The BLM will monitor effectiveness of BRC’s and the BLM’s environmental and vending compliance programs.

Background:

Our environmental and vending compliance programs are robust, and we report to the BLM every day. We’re in contact with them 24/7 on playa and work with them year-round to review our protocols. These programs are extremely successful and run by us, as they should be. We have learned from the current BLM Authorized Officer that this “monitoring” language disguises BLM’s real intent, which is to catch people mid-act instead of assessing overall performance afterwards. This mitigation is unjustified and could easily lead to a situation where (for example) BLM could cite someone for failure to provide secondary fuel containment if they just arrived on playa and, in the act of unpacking, places their fuel can on the ground while they unload the secondary container. 



Air Quality

Measure AQ-1

BLM law enforcement and BRC will monitor speed limits within the Closure Area during the Closure Order.

Background:

The speed limit is a BRC-imposed limit, enforced by BRC, and rarely exceeded by anyone other than BLM. BLM does not need to be performing this function.


Measure AQ-2

The BLM or BLM-approved contractor will monitor dust aerosols during the Closure Order. The costs of BLM employee and contractor labor will be recouped via cost recovery from the proponent. 

Having been on the playa for 30 years, and being fairly sure that the dust is not going to decrease (as an average) during any given event, why would BLM suddenly need BRC to pay for a vendor to say it is dusty? BRC is pleased to support providing N95 masks for federal employees to protect their lungs.



Visual Resources

Measure VIS-1

The BLM will implement monitoring measure of the Burning Man Event Night Skies Study (Craine and Craine 2017). The costs of BLM employee and contractor labor will be recouped via cost recovery from the proponent. 

Background:

Yet another contractor for BLM to manage on playa to tell us that there are lights in the night sky as a result of the Burning Man event. Our third party analysis of the DEIA data confirms the Crane and Crane study methodology is flawed, and their conclusions rely too heavily on a single data point lasting less than one second in a five year period. 


Measure VIS-4

The BLM will monitor to ensure high-energy lasers and large lights (e.g., spotlights) are not used during the Event. 

Background:

Firstly this is based as above on the response that is scientifically extremely questionable. And secondly this leaves the BLM open to stop almost any light source they want. There is no definition in any of the specifications at all. 



Recreation

Measure REC-1

The BLM will work with BRC to develop an independent third-party population monitoring system for the Event. The purpose would be to ensure that the total number of attendees visiting the playa during the Closure Order is equal to or less than the maximum permitted population. 

Background:

BRC already has a population counting and reporting system in place, we report to the BLM every day, AND BLM HAS ACCESS TO THE SYSTEM 24 HOURS A DAY. That is how we knew, to the minute, in 2018 when we had 61 extra people on site. This mitigation is unsupported by the data and completely unjustified.


Measure REC-3

The BLM will monitor and assess visitor use numbers, patterns, and activities, and determine if desired experiences are being achieved. 

Background:

No. This is entirely outside the scope of BLM’s authority. “Determine if desired experiences are being achieved”? What experiences, exactly? And what if they’re “not being achieved”? Would that put BRC out of compliance with our permit? BLM does not get to determine what your Burning Man experience is.


Measure REC-4

Through post-Event inspections, the BLM will assess the magnitude, distribution, and subsequent impacts of all debris generated by the Event. 

Background:

All debris??? Is BLM going to track you back to your house to assess how well you throw away your trash? This is broad and vague enough to imply that the BLM presumes authority to assess debris production and DISTRIBUTION, wherever that may be: Nevada, on public land, in San Francisco, the Reno airport, wherever.



Transportation and Traffic

Measure TRAN-1

The BLM will install traffic counters at 12-Miler and Gate Roat 14 days before Labor Day, and they will remain in operation until 7 days after Labor Day. The costs of the equipment and BLM employee labor will be recouped via cost recovery from the proponent. 

Background:

NDOT has installed counters on SR447 and BRC scans all vehicles coming into BRC. Why must BRC pay for an external vendor to validate work already undertaken?


Examples of Excellent Comments

Hello BLM,

Thank you for allowing me to comment on your Burning Man Environmental Impact Statement. My story: Retail business owner (motorcycle accessories) for 9 years in Costa Mesa, California, and 17-year Burning Man participant, beginning in 2001. I organize theme camps and have participated in art cars on playa, and I help organize Burner-related events throughout the year in Orange County, CA. I’ve driven my vehicle to the playa each time, personally spending thousands of dollars over the years on food, hotels, fuel and services in Nevada. 

Mitigation PHS-1: At all portals of entry into the Event, beginning 14 days before Labor Day, BRC will be required to contract a BLM-approved, independent, third-party, private security to screen vehicles and participants, vendors and contractors, and staff and volunteers entering the Event. Third-party, private security will report Closure Order violations, to include weapons and illegal drugs, directly to law enforcement as violations are observed so that law enforcement can respond. Third-party, private security will provide an Event summary report to the BLM within 30 days of the end of the Event.

In my 17 years attending Burning Man, weapons and illegal drugs have never caused me even a moment of concern. Also, this sounds like a violation of the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and probably other laws. Law enforcement officers already inside the event provide a substantial deterrent to any illegal activities.  

Mitigation PHS-3: BRC will be required to implement physical perimeter barriers (e.g., Jersey barriers and K-rail fence) to reduce the risk of unauthorized entry to the Event. This will be done concurrent with city and perimeter fence construction.

Each year, I spend a significant amount of time out on “deep playa”, and near the trash fence, during day and night, and not once have I witnessed any issue that would be mitigated with this extremely expensive and playa-damaging proposal, which is not supported by any facts and was clearly written by someone who has not been to the edge of Burning Man. Inclusion of this solution-to-a-problem-that-doesn’t-exist calls into question the integrity of the whole EIS document. 

Mitigation WHS-4 and Mitigation WHS-6: BRC will require all participants and staff on the playa to clean up and dispose of all fluids and materials by the appropriate means. The BLM will monitor disposals.

BRC and all of us participants already do this! It’s part of our Leave No Trace philosophy, which is core to our experience. I’ve personally witnessed, and helped out with many incidents of BRC Rangers pointing out potential spills and educating the potential offenders, with great success.

Mitigation SOIL-3: BRC will restore the playa contours by the end of the Closure Order.

BLM has not defined “playa contours” or “restore playa contours”. BRC’s restoration team spends weeks post-event restoring the playa, and busts dunes that may have been created, effectively eliminating dunes before leaving. We already “restore” your “contours”. 

Mitigation ECON-1: BRC will negotiate with Washoe County to provide cost recovery for maintenance of CR 34 associated with Event traffic.

This proposed mitigation falls outside of the BLM’s authority. Also, collectively, Burners have paid millions of dollars of taxes on Nevada fuel that go into the fund already allocated for this purpose. County Route 34 is a county-maintained road that was designed and built in the early 1970s to last 30 to 40 years, according to Washoe County records. It has already surpassed its expected lifespan, with or without Burning Man. On a related note, the National Park Service does not impose excessive fees to make visitors pay local governments for road repair. To say this is excessive and unfair is an understatement.

DUMPSTERS! Really? Again, have the proposal writers even been to Burning Man? Leave No Trace is our mantra every minute of every day there. Taking trash home- which includes gray water from showering and brushing teeth, by the way- is a way of life. Coachella has dumpsters; Burning Man does not want to change one of our basic principles. 

Burning Man has indicated that there are currently no plans to grow the event to the 100,000 your report is suggesting. So many aspects of this report add nothing to the event for participants- not safety or convenience – except perhaps a prohibitive cost increase. 

Thanks for listening,

[REDACTED]

“The second issue is more personally troubling. Burning Man staff and volunteers already search every vehicle that crosses into Black Rock City. Our Constitution protects our citizens from unwarranted search and seizures. I fail to see, how as a 64 year old Grandmother of 3, Library volunteer, never been in trouble, never been arrested, I deserve to be searched by an outside security firm and/or Law enforcement? Just because I have chosen to attend Burning Man for the last 9 years? What possible justification could you have for an unwarranted search?”

Comment on private security searches from AK: “The Burning Man event constitutes a city of about 70,000 people. “Black Rock City” is one of the largest cities in the state of Nevada during the event. As in any functioning city, goodwill between citizens and police officials are an essential foundation of safety.

By requiring mandatory, warrantless searches of all vehicle traffic into the event, the event begins on a foundation of mistrust. This mistrust might further exacerbate issues that do inevitably arise during the event.

Moreover, the civil liberties concerns raised by these searches could lead to liability for both the Burning Man organization and the BLM; taxpayer dollars will be required to defend the BLM against any suits raised by event participants whose rights are violated.”

“In regards to Mitigation AQ-1: I’ve personally not seen any Burning Man affiliated organization (or individual) do anything to cause dust storms – I don’t see how Burning Man can be responsible for providing solutions to mitigate naturally occurring phenomena.”


Top photo by Will Roger Peterson

About the author: Burning Man

Burning Man

The official voice of the Burning Man organization, managed by Burning Man's Communications Team.

93 Comments on “Burning Man Faces Existential Threat: EIS Deadline Approaching

  • Testicle Mary says:

    The more I read the brake down the more I’m seeing it’s a money game and that want us to move.
    It’s so hostile.

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  • DesertRat says:

    So this EIS will only affect BRC if it expands to 100,000? (When will this EIS become effective?)

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  • BobC says:

    While Burning Man and a large portions of its participants do an excellent job maintaining their LNT policy when it comes to playa conditions, I think there is very little serious concern about the condition of the atmosphere or the carbon footprint as a result of the annual event. How much consideration is ever given to to the debris released into the atmosphere from the many burns and to those communities and residents living down wind of the location? With all the proof of accelerated climate change, there is very little policy to minimize the release of greenhouse gasses transporting to/from and throughout the event, given the large scale burns, heavy construction equipment and generators, heavy duty tractor trailer usage by P&P and other event operators, large number of gas guzzling RVs, frivolous air traffic and other environmentally unfriendly practices.

    What is it the burning of the art is supposed to represent, impermanence? Perhaps it is time for such a gratuitous event to come to an end.

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    • TomM says:

      simply put, i agree with you BobC

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    • space guy says:

      While I agree, it’s important to remember that just because Burning Man needs to address a problem does _not_ make the problems brought up in the EIS valid. Don’t fall into the trap of “whattaboutism” – we can find ways to deal with the very real problem of carbon emissions.

      The EIS, as far as I know, makes no mention of carbon emissions. Pretty sure the current administration probably fires anyone who mentions human-based climate change – and that’s where this report is coming from.

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    • Cub Scout says:

      The issue of Burning Man’s carbon footprint has been something attendees and the Org have been working on for over a decade:

      https://journal.burningman.org/2018/03/black-rock-city/leaving-no-trace/burning-mans-2018-environmental-check-up/

      TL;DR
      The vast majority of BM’s carbon footprint relates to vehicles travelling to the playa. Not the event itself. Burning large wood structures and firing of plumes of propane fuel _seems_ bad, but is actually tiny in comparison. This is something all large events face, but Burning Man has been working to improve these things.

      Notable steps taken:

      Vehicle passes: To limit how many vehicles can home, and encouraging carpooling. Each year there are slightly fewer available.

      Burner Bus: The burner bus program has been expanded to move more burners in efficient mass transit.

      The one counterpoint I’ll grant you: The creation of the Burner Express Flights are stupid, and sadly goes against this goal.

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    • William Woodbury says:

      BobC, I only agree with one of your concerns–smoke possibly adversely affecting downwind permanent residents in the area.

      Also, BobC, I think your objection to the carbon footprint of the burning wood, the heavy equipment, the generators, the RVs, and other machinery in BRC is totally baseless. You have failed to consider the much greater reduction in the carbon footprints of the tens of thousands of homes that BRC residents leave unoccupied for several days. Think about all coal and natural gas not burned as a result of these houses being unoccupied–all the lights, ACs, and other electrical appliances consuming zero or far less than normal kilowatt hours.

      Your argument against the carbon footprint of the travel to and from BRC seems very heavy handed to me. You seem to object to all “frivolous air travel” and all driving for “frivolous” purposes. Should we all have to feel guilty for going on vacation? Should everyone stop flying or driving to attend a sporting event, visit a national park, go camping or hiking, visit distant family, eat out, go to a play, or visit an art museum? Who gets to define “frivolous”? You? The government?

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    • Labida says:

      Burning Man has twice the carbon footprint per participant of the average Californian.

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  • Zippo says:

    I think Burning Man may have tried to cross “a bridge too far” when they asked for a 10 year permit which adds 1500 acres to the closure area and posits growing the event to 100,000 people. While the ORG is hurriedly backtracking on their requests, the damage is done.
    All BLM sees is 20% more people, 20% more vehicles, 20% more trash, 20% more so-called “light pollution”, and 20% more law enforcement issues. BLM doesn’t give a damn about Burning Man’s quasi-religious Ten Principles. They may have just freaked out at what Burning Man was asking for.
    This is how government goes about killing off uses of public land they don’t like. Set conditions that are impossible to comply with, then use that as an excuse to deny permits to use said land. The BLM is saying loud and clear that they think Burning Man is just more of an annoyance than they want to put up with.

    I also think there may be a political component to all this—–namely that the Trump Administration simply doesn’t want that many DEMOCRATS together in the same place at the same time.
    In other words, the decision’s already been made and all the hearings, comments and scoping is just a charade to comply with NEPA.

    Larry himself said a few years ago that he didn’t think that the future of Burning Man lay in the Black Rock Desert. He put more faith that Burning Man culture would spread farther and wider through the regional events.
    If the Burning Man Project wants to have a “Black Rock City”, it’s time that Burning Man find another place to have the event.

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    • Kat says:

      Blaming Trump? Really? He has probably never even heard of Burning Man. Pretty sure EVERY person attending the event is not a LIBERAL. Thats the great thing about the event. EVERYONE living together in peace and harmony. Leaving ALL political views back in the default world for ONE WEEK.

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      • Diva Deb says:

        You might be surprised how many Conservatives and Republicans there are out on playa. Seems like you’ve come down with a case of Trump derangement syndrome. Our camp has a no politics rule since that’s all we ever here anymore! Leave politics out of this please – this is all about greed, overreach on public lands and violations of our Constitutional rights.

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      • Ginger Bunny says:

        I’ll say this again, there is nothing better than Burner butthurt. If the festival doesn’t get its permit this year because they couldn’t find 10 miles of concrete barriers I am going to have an orgasm in my pants. I can’t wait for that feeling.

        Where are they going to find 10 MILES of this stuff? It doesn’t exist in California or Nevada. They might get a mile or two if Caltrans leases this stuff out, but not likely.

        It all depends if the BLM is blowing smoke or if they actually want to shut this shit-show down. IMO, there’s about a 5% chance this isn’t about giving BLM more money. They might actually be sick of the event. But that’s not too likely. It’s a spin on the roulette wheel at this point.

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      • G says:

        The general theme in the current executive branch and the GOP//right wing governance style includes large doses of ignorance, incompetence and, ideology. The fact that large doses of these three ‘I”s are coming through BLM in print comes as no surprise. Mr. Pence’s fundamentalist christianity creates suspicion in my mind as well. What kind of strings are being pulled back stage, so to speak? Welcome to GOP/Trump “governing” style. Two years into the current administration, their true colors are shining through.

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    • R. says:

      I am NOT a Democrat. I am a Christian and a Trump Supporting Conservative. I have been to Burning Man two times and never had anyone tell me I was not welcome, and I never heard anyone say only Liberals were allowed. I have always felt I belonged. Your bigoted statement is what I thought Burning Man was against. Yet haters like you will always find a way to show their hypocritical bias.

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    • 2 Cool 2 Fool says:

      Zippo – step away from the bong.

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    • Moonchild says:

      I agree with you.

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    • William Woodbury says:

      Me too! I’m not politically liberal, and I love Burning Man! Actually, I’m an artist and an independent Libertarian who wants to end all unnecessary government regulation and restore our freedom.

      I think the problem here is not opposition by Trump or Republicans, but rather overreaching and oppressive government regulation by entrenched, power-hungry government bureaucrats who are infringing on our First Amendment right to freedom of association. Since Trump is actively opposed to government over-regulation, I think bringing this issue to his attention could lead to an executive order compelling BLM to back off. Remember that Trump dislikes BLM. He has proposed returning most BLM land to the individual states from which the federal government seized it. I think Trump would be on our side on this. It’s well worth our time to lobby all politicians of both parties to end BLM oppression of Burning Man.

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      • Roadster says:

        The comment relating this to Trump is pure TDS.

        There have been several Trump supporting republicans who have gone to, and thoroughly enjoyed the culture of, Burning Man. Grover Norqist is the most notable example.

        However, there is an unbelievable amount of liberal thinking individuals who go to BM. I would guess it is around 50% of the people there who come from the bay area, which is largely a liberal and far leftist bastion.

        What myself and other conservative people really would love to see is a better dialogue on issues of government instead of character assassination and identity politics.

        I know a lot of Burners who are left leaning and I still love them even though my ideologies do not line up with them. They may think I am a far right / alt-right fascist for supporting our president (or maybe just a moron) and his agenda, but it is anything but. So, I just keep my opinion to myself while they mouth off about the most recent “Trump did THIS thing” rant. I care more for the relationship I have with the person to simply not involve politics than to voice an unpopular stance or opinion and ostracize myself from the largely liberal / leftist community that comprises Burning Man.

        If you are to be really honest about any involvement of the Trump administration, you should realize that he is, and has always been, small government… which means a reduction in bloated agencies like the BLM, the EPA and many others. The extreme restrictions that they place on events like this one and the bureaucracy that makes everything dealing with this event more expensive (you like how those ticket prices have almost doubled since 2010?) is the real problem here…. not Trump.

        So, if you see someone out on the playa, riding around with a MAGA hat on, try to engage in a conversation as to why they are expressing themselves freely, when they have such a threat of assault and violence upon themselves for simply wearing a hat.

        It is a part of the 10 principles. Radical expression. We want you to be a part of it. It feels really good to be patriotic and proud of your country. It feels good to be a part of a movement that seeks to correct the faults in our society. It is also a moral and ethical obligation that we have to help the weakest and most helpless in our society and to get government off of their backs. That is what any person who has a MAGA hat on is backing.

        Burning Man, at its core, is MAGA. It is the best and ultimate expression of the 1st Amendment. Freedom of speech. You can be, have, say and do anything (without infringing upon the rights of others) out there, to an extreme extent. Burners, maybe without realizing it, are agreeing with our POTUS and are just engaging in groupthink that has been taught to them that “orange man bad”. We don’t fault you for this as many of us have been incredibly programmed from a very early age by the mainstream media to follow certain narratives via cues and conditioning.

        Us conservatives, republicans (not the neocon variety) and Christians do love and appreciate the BM culture. It is just that sometimes we wish you would be a bit more tolerant of viewpoints that you may not understand, appreciate or recognize. For the most part, we feel as if we have given you that leeway. Consider giving a little back :)

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    • Jay says:

      I don’t think most burners support the corporatist warhawk Democrat party…

      But what do I know. Maybe many have been blinded by the two party system.

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  • Tyfus says:

    Was it 2006 that BMorg released about 100 birds on burn night? Half of them flew into the flames. So much for the bird thing.

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  • Mark McCormack says:

    Nothing against the law enforcement, but what do they really do on the playa? In the nine times I have attended – roughly every other year, so a time span of 18 +/- years, I have never seen an arrest being made, I have never seen an emergency call for the police. I have only seen a few of the uniformed law men actually walking around, and once, a pair of law men on bikes. What I do see, is a lot of law enforcement vehicles slowly tooling around with Windows up and air conditioning on. If they are not moving in a vehicle, I see them parked with engines running talking with other law men in other vehicles.

    Knowing the atmosphere of the event, and the attitude of the participants, I don’t see why the law enforcement couldn’t be reduced by 50+ % . Look at the minimal arrest reports compared to the amount of attendees. It’s just not an environment where trouble is brewing, tempers are flaring and problems are just right around the corner. I feel safer in black rock city than I do in any big city.

    As far as all these dumb request by the BLM. That’s exactly what they are. They are trying to push the envelope looking to see just how far they can go and how fat they can get BMORG to stuff the envelope with cash.

    The barrier wall idea is as dumb of an idea I have ever heard of. The only reason I have seen written for this, is to prevent people from illegally entering The event…. like a 4 foot barrier is gonna stop that! How about you use The night vision binoculars that I think you made BMORG provide to prevent the 4 people who try to walk in.

    I would be willing to bet that the rocketeers, the time trials at Bonneville salt flats , commercial shoots, and whatever other events occur on BLM land leave far more trash and debris behind than does BM.

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    • Namma says:

      Why do you hate the police? They protect you.

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    • G says:

      The LEOs could very much back off on their invasive looking for trouble. Hang out at opening night at Greeters station and just watch. Multiple pull overs for the most trivial reasons escalated into drug searches. I have seen LEO use of huge binoculars spotting open containers through the windshields of arriving vehicles. I witnessed a drug sniffing dog working a detained small group of people’s possessions at a Temple burn.
      Absolutely I want LEOs to be there in case of genuine trouble. However, their actively looking for trouble is at least unsavory, at worst police state invasive. Hard line absolutist law enforcement is a mark of an authoritarian mentality. I am embarrassed for the USA that foreign visitors to BRC witness such actions.

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  • Cap'n Jonny says:

    While burners seem to have plenty of opinions about the BLM and what they are trying to accomplish, and I happen to agree with most of them, what I want to hear is what is the ORG actually doing to protect the event.
    Where are the lawyers? Why, if the requirements are illegal and unconstitutional , hasn’t the org created a high power professional team of legal and other experts to defend them / us from the hit job that the BLM is trying to pull here.
    Asking Burners to write their protests to the BLM is fine but what if those responses start getting belligerent. Not all Burners are “civilized” . I am not a lawyer and neither are most burners. When it comes to dealing with a government bureaucracy I think we should be hiring lobbyists and lawyers to represent us. Is this happening? ORG, if you are listening , please let us know what you are doing.

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    • Mark McCormack says:

      You are 100% correct. You would think they would have done that years ago when the fighting started.

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    • M says:

      The reason is actually pretty simple: NEPA requires BLM to reasonably respond to each and every comment received during the public comment period.

      One comment written by a legal professional, while probably more technically sound, doesn’t carry the weight that 5000 comments from semi-informed folks would. If nothing else, it puts a wrench in their plans and is a statement on the strength and intentions of the community.

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  • Fox says:

    Thank you for informing regarding the EIS.
    I and the company where I work deal with CEQA issues (sometimes NEPA) daily. I am a residential developer in the SF Bay Area. While I appreciate the answers or comments as responses signaling indignation, that isn’t the way to respond.

    e.g. The initial EIS (which I read close to a decade ago) posits that dust will increase because of the disturbance 30k+ people concentrated in the closure.
    That has probably come to pass. The Clean Air Act has enough teeth to force the hands of the LAWP and MWD, (the water districts who service water demand for the LA basin. These are big dogs, with big money, and big lobbyists), as well as numerous other water-demand interests. Most if not all have a better public standing, in that they are mining, logging, gas extraction, etc. interests, and are not this hippy-dippy event.

    My point: These interests have been subject to enormous agency exactions to get their permits. These interests are in the BLM’s wheelhouse. It is their mission to secure 19th and 20th Century uses for public lands, subject to current laws and new findings and the heavy hand of what many people think are over-the-top environmentalists.

    The agency preparing the EIS and the people who have to put their names on that document are obligated by NEPA and the trust of the public, to seriously consider every section; including any new laws, relevant science (like Greenhouse gases under CEQA…) and mandate new studies that utilize new techniques, new standards, new mitigation, and new concerns that impact the physical, social and cultural environment.

    The responses included (by the author) in this publication are in a word, childish. The government is going to eat the Org for lunch, if these responses are representative of the approach.

    The people who are preparing the EIS have a job to do, and they get paid whether BM gets a permit or gets sent to the woodshed. They don’t give a fig either way. Does the Org want a permit? Then pay for the studies that allow the permit to be issued. It is going to be expensive. If argument is levied on emotional grounds, or with some sense of entitlement or indignation, it will only take longer.

    The government will wait for the tantrum to end and say, “Where were we? Oh, right. You need to cut a check for these studies. We missed the window this year for migratory birds (fill in as indicated), so it is next September (fill in), plus 12 weeks for the report. 30 days for our preliminary review and comment. If no further study is needed, then we can go to public comment, plus response, plus rebuttal, plus response, plus findings and recommendation.” (I added about 18 months from approval and commissioning of the study, if the stars align. It will probably take two to three years.)

    The only winning chance open is an answer using rigorous science, sagacious diplomacy and an open checkbook. Welcome to the NFL.

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    • Nancy says:

      Why do you hate birds?

      Report comment

    • Simon Mark Greer says:

      Good comment.. thoughtful.. real . An attitude of assisting and
      “Complying” is BM’s only hope.. or move, rename, and start over. Fighting w/spendy lawyers could “work” but… at what cost?

      A festival with less rules elsewhere, seems to be where all this is going.. Rainbow Gathering is “free”.. and in the winderness.. How do they do it?!

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      • Joan says:

        >>How do they do it?!
        Everyone is high all the time. They just slip around and people stay out of their way because they’re so high just smoking banana leaves.

        That kind of thing doesn’t work with the BM crowd who are high or stimulants. They’re tweakers who need to e managed for their safety and the safety of others. A concrete wall would assist in keeping them in. BLM has a lot of experience dealing with these out of control children. I support anything they suggest for my safety and for the people around me on the playa.

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      • Robyn says:

        Perhaps one of the empty private prisons would be a good start in finding an alternate location for BM. Plenty of room for Art and people. I bet they would work $$$ with the BMOrg.

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    • Brent says:

      Upvote this 100%

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  • as soon as the elitest greedy BORG (which is a highly lucrative business masquerading as a non-profit) stops selling our city out to the rich and turnkey camps, i will be supporting a full evaluation and investigation. as a resident of BRC for 24 years, i have been witnessing widespread hipicrasy for far too long. “leave no trace” means BETTER than yoh found it. the population must be greatly reduced. fighting environmental protection measures is not the answer. less humans is the answer. always.

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    • Milk says:

      I agree, I would be so cool to pick your brain. Im 23 and some people think its Coachella, real burners respect the land. How do we stop these people from ruining burning man, how? Christopher we need to act now. Its a huge freedom to have burning man and to be completely honest I cant stand to see freedom taken away! My 3rd year is going to in 3 and a half months and I wanna grow old and be able to say we pulled threw. Sorry for the speil im just to emotionally attached to the people and things ive seen.

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  • Bloom says:

    ARE WE GOING TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT FAMILYs BEING ILLEGALLY PULLED OVER, SEARCHED, AND TAKEN TO JAIL???

    Report comment

  • Thisguy says:

    Seems if the requirements are unconstitutional or using false scientific assumptions, the org could tie this up in court for some time? or is it, “sorry no permit, have fun suing us”?

    Agree, signs point to moving the event. BRC is NOT do or die. There are alternatives, and there’s no lack of creativity in this community to identify our next Home.

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    • Milk says:

      Ive probably replied to 3 comments now, wondering why more people don’t chip in? this should be a place for massive discussion. Id like BM stay in the BRD but honestly its the people. If it was in the artic I would go just because the people make burning man what it is, not the glitz or glamor but the people. Burning man wont be stopped. You cant stop freedom, and that’s what burning man is!

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  • Robert Koontz says:

    There are many places that would love to have BM.
    Move to a more accommodating location. Put it in the Middle of the USA somewhere. Lots of room and good people. They would love to have the bleed off of cash as the people went thru.

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    • BurnLover says:

      In my opinion and think many others, part of the fun of BM is the miserable conditions the exist on the playa. I would be for moving the event to a new location provided it has miserable conditions
      I notice on google earth there is a large Playa south/west of the current location. It looks to be on the Paiute reservation. Maybe this option has already been explored by BM? If not would the Paiute tribe say yes, or not only no but hell no!

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    • BunnyIndi says:

      I agree. The even should be moved to Portland or San Francisco.

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  • Juan Rendon says:

    Although I have yet to attend BM, I do see the beautiful way that people have described the event. More intervention from outside sources just seems like it would cause more trouble than good.

    With Spec-3 and AQ-2, I don’t see where having a third party come in and “manage the dust” will help. It has been a known fact that BM is a dusty place. It is something you have to prepare for and keep in mind.

    Although, I do see where there is a place for a security team at events like this, I do not believe that monitoring the entire event will do much, however. I have seen Festivals where there is minimal security and nothing goes wrong. It is important to have trained staff that can handle difficult situations professionally, but having a bunch of police all over the place will only create an atmosphere where people don’t feel trusted. I think the idea of trusting one another when we are all together is something that drives the Burning Man community.

    From what I’m understanding in the article above, It seems like people are trying to finagle their way into an event that is thriving. Trying to put their own businesses in something that already has a lot of what they’re “asking for”.
    I would really hate to see BM turn into a corporate event like many other festivals I see around. Even though there is always room for all types of events, I do not believe that every event deserves to have the same structure.

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  • Benjamin Gronich says:

    I am against the changes being proposed. Please do not extinguish this beautiful gathering of environmentally aware, emotionally open, communally healing individuals. It would be a significant loss for all. The changes being proposed under the guise of environmental protection are actually harmful to the land itself. Creating a wall perimeter would not only be significantly costly, but it would also negatively impact the land formations, as the trash vents allow for ventilation while simultaneously expertly protecting the land from matter out of place. At best, this does not feel like an attempt to address environmental concerns, but an attempt to stifle connectivity, creativity, and community. Please reconsider these horrible changes.

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  • Oogie says:

    My comment is a bit of an outsider comment.
    And by the way, excuse me for my misuse of English as it is not my Number 1.
    So I have been a burner since 2007 – been to 10 event in Nevada and 5 Midburns in Israel.
    I am a big part of the mid burn, first as the LNT leader and later as a camp leader.
    I truly believe in the ideas of BM and I think the event itself if not as important as what it represent. I have been coming back to the playa over the last 10 years and every time I notice something else that is bothering me. When I ask myself what it is, I found out it is the sense of “disgust” from what I will call “who got more” syndrome I now see everywhere. Don’t get me wrong. Burning man is still full of mind blowing experiences and amazing personals but you cannot shy away from the fact that something is really wrong with it. Its like ״The Little Shop of Horrors״ – the flower we had became a monster and now we have to feed it non stop…it became bigger than us. Bigger than the ideals. We have the same issues in Israel. Different spices, same dish. Midburn will not happen. And even though we were prepared and ready, we pay a lot to store our stuff, we got this routine going on, I cant say I am not happy. I can use the rest and so are my friends. I think we don’t have to feed the beast non stop. Sometimes we can just stop. It won’t die. It will just shrink back to its normal proportions. Like I said, the ideals are bigger than the event and they will remain. If the playa is being left alone. The spirit won’t die, it will just evolve. We have a concept in Judaism that is called “Shnat shmita” (wikipedia didn’t have a value for it in any other language but Hebrew so I cant translate it to match the knowledge of the masses). A very simply translation will be a year of dropping (NOT a year spent on a toilet). The concept refers to agriculture practices pretty much means that every 7 years you leave the earth to do its own thing. You don’t even pick the fruits. You let it rest. I think its beautiful and maybe what is happening to Midburn and Burning man is a “Shnat Shmita” and it`s not a bad thing. I know there is a lot more here and its a fight about rights and the wrongs of the system and that should be carried with as much intelligence and goodwill as possible. Yet, saints are rare and scarce. Especially the tormented ones this days. BM is not a saint. It might be tormented but it`s not a saint, which mean there is a deep answer to the question “Why am I being tormented?”. Big love, good luck and keep on being a lighthouse in the dark.

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  • Scott Sightseer says:

    The best way to tackle is by these all at once. If we are already doing it, need to crank it up a notch. At the end of the day, unfortunately — Money Talks.

    1. Build relationships with BML and Nevada congress (lunch/dinners/entrance to BM, etc.)
    2. Hiring lobbyists (reach out to Google/FB for money)
    3. There is a generational gap here. Folks at the BML are traditional, older folks. I don’t know how to close it, but need to close that in their understanding (didn’t that generation grow up in the 60s & 70s? They should have understood it).
    4. Shrink the event to 50,000. Get the real burners in who volunteer for art projects/camps (and not the ones that throw money and get it. It needs to be earned. This will naturally leave out sparkle ponies/instagram models via natural selection process — we are not barring them, they will bar themselves).
    5. Hire top lawyers to build defense against some of these requirements that a judge can easily throw out.

    Peace.

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  • Marc says:

    money money money all about money this is today’s America

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  • TedBurner says:

    There are many many other areas that are just as suitable to create a new BRC in a more welcoming desert state with less government Bureaucrats trying to exert control.

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  • Jayneofthinejungle says:

    Hi loves, do you have just over 2 minutes??
    It’s true people learn better from stories…. deeper.
    So – what is BLM trying to achieve here? Sounds like a whole lotta CYA – not a lot of environmental conservation or respect for that matter. Not even pride or self respect to present such lucridity … (yeah I made up that word) ok – so – obviously they are in over their heads – obviously – there is nothing else in the world like BRC. With great power comes great responsibility – Burning Man has always stepped up to the plate and beyond – by volunteers – we give away our talents as gifts – for FREE. BLM – is not so lucky – so how do we help them form a better option – that IS what they’re really asking for… NEVER before has BLM had to “cover” environmental issues AND security issues – not the way they are faced with now. BRC has always gone above and beyond – we are so far ahead / advanced – EXACTLY BECAUSE of our freedoms!! Because we are free to expand WITH each other…. how do we teach BLM?? Take our record – no other event has the history we do – the leadership that has been so freely given – lovingly given – at BRC…. c’mon guys…. it’s not that hard. We have already solved most of the “environmental” (erhhmmmm bullshit) they have proposed in the EIS. I don’t even know how they call it an Environmental Impact Study and then turn around and offer such harmful suggestions…. Just shows how very lost they are – how much they need OUR leadership….. lets give it – it’s the best we’ve got!!! – and as my Daddy told me – it doesn’t matter if your the GM or the floor sweeper you be the best damned floor sweeper they’ve ever seen – give more than anyone else and be proud to! Then, you always know you gave your best and it will always pay off. Love

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    • James says:

      It could also be that the BLM and other law enforcement agencies, and the entire local community is sick of deal with Burning Man and Burners; that the money is no longer worth it. The juice is not worth the squeeze, and they’re letting us know by saying, “Go find 10 miles of concrete, or stay home!”. Newsflash: There is not 10 miles of concrete wall available in all of Nevada.

      BLM’s requirements are either one way of pulling the plug on the event, or a left-haned demand for more money. It’s either or.

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  • playamoth says:

    We’ve cultivated relations with the Paiute Nation. Let’s do it on land inside their reservation. Fuck the Feds. BM’s been BLM’s milking cow, They’ll back down when we have that option 0f doing it somewhere else.

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  • Shannon says:

    Many people are 100% on saying its all about the money and how that can get their share of what we contribute each year. I started coming to Burning Man over 10 years ago and am in no way come just for a party scene or any illegal activities but I have become a much better human being because of my experience at Burning Man each year with the openness and truly wonderful people who attend every year. If BLM does not like the influx of funds our community pours into the local economies each year, we should go elsewhere.

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  • Jon Kinum says:

    the reason why Burning Man is so great is it serves as a safe haven for people who are tired of living in a world full of greed. We love Burning Man because you are surrounded by Love, Acceptance, and Understanding. These proposals will almost certainly turn this beautiful event into something that will no longer resonate with any of us.
    Just go to the event. Don’t look at it from a far and make judgements on it. Go to it. Free yourself from fear and insecurity and let your true self shine through.
    Please don’t ruin this event. It’s something that we look forward to. It’s a brief moment where we can pretend that the world’s evil doesn’t exists and we can all live in harmony. Please don’t take that away from us. We don’t need your help with this. We have had this under control for thirty years and show no signs of slowing down. Please trust us. We know what we are doing. ❤️

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    • Jason Tobias says:

      I have yet to attendant, planning on 2020. But what you said in your comment is why I am am so looking forward to the experience. So sorry BRC is being bullied by BLM sounds a bit like greed. I am looking forward to my first Burn.

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  • Sketchy says:

    As much as I’d like to say BMOrg has a point its very hard for me to feel motivated to write to BLM when 5 out of 6 years I couldn’t get a ticket in the main sale and 4 of 6 years I couldn’t get a ticket at all.

    I’ve put plenty of effort into BM waiting online and stressing through hours of planning to end up not going.

    I don’t really feel connected to the event. In fact, it feels pretty hostile to me.

    I’ve seen other comments in here referring to BM as a 1%er white guy party in the desert. Burners don’t want it to be that but in many ways that is what its become.

    BLM is just finishing what the Org’s inability to stop turnkey camps, rave weekenders, ticket disappointment and inaccessibility to normal humans has started.

    Yeah, I read that change of culture article. Too little too late. I’ll never forget my BM experience but the fact I’m willing to put more effort into this vent session than arguing with BLM in the form an email that will be ignored anyway says something.

    BMOrg has brought this on themselves.

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  • Antonella says:

    I’ve participated in 2018 and the event has enriched my life and my knowledge, is a true community and I’ve found in my camp a family. All people participating to BM have a strong will to expeeience and to share

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  • Tomalita says:

    Please leave the BRC alone! If one were to go to any other huge event with half the amount of people they would see how much trash is left behind. Burners have the best intentions at heart and take care of the land!

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  • Brendon Galdino says:

    Livre liberdade de expressão.!!!!!! Homem em chamas

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  • Emily says:

    It pains me to see the BLM grasping at straws here and over stepping there boundaries all because there is someone or multiple out there who do not have an open heart and open mind and would rather see something as great as BRC suffer and or cease to exist. The demands of this proposal are generalized and unnecessary for all.

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    • Milk says:

      Burning man is the opposite of Vegas, no crime, no assholes, all love, decommodified. Now that I think about it, that’s why they want it shut down. They cant commodify it! They are trying to by making burning man pay for concrete barriers that are gonna cost minimum 1 million when all said and done.

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  • Charles Lazarus says:

    One of the only events of its kind in the world where so many people simultaneously buy into the ideals of a community that maintains a positive general theme of environmental consciousness and awareness. Trash has never been an issue in all these decades and it is ridiculous to implement these new policies. Please protect what has been built and allow BRC to carry on with its responsible approach. Thank you

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  • Lady Madonna says:

    The Burning Man Community are outraged by the allegations made against them. Please leave our community safe space alone.

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    • Buble says:

      BMorg intentionally killed the online community many years ago. They didn’t like the comments, so they killed it. Now they come and ask us for help… ask who? There’s about 100 people who read this blog, and even fewer that comment. The community is dead, because you killed it, BMorg. Years ago, when the community was alive, we would have gone to war with you. Now, we don’t care. So start reserving your concrete wall now. It’s the bed you made for yourselves.

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  • Ferdinand Fizzlefax says:

    Show some class and let it die. Remember the last episode of Seinfeld? It didn’t go off the air because of poor ratings, it went off the air because going out on top is way classier than undergoing a slow death. This is what Burningman is facing now. The unavoidable downward slide that all things truly amazing experience once the corporate (choose your favorite entity) gets its talons firmly clenched.
    The Playa has become “pre ripped jeans” and selfie sticks (minus the corporate logo). I hope they let you finally rest in peace before you are dancing like a chicken on a hotplate in some plug-in-play camp.
    Goodbye, my friend.

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  • Shlanger Nir says:

    Burning man is the only real comunity on earth that teaches us the best man can produce .
    It exicts for more than 30 years,an exmple for what humanity can acheav at its best preformance.
    Let it be….

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    • Cindy says:

      >teaches us the best man can produce .
      That’s racist against women. Submit yourself to the nearest re-education camp for more cultural learnings about how racist you are.

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  • Yowhashonda says:

    Why are Burners against BLM? We stand in solidarity with African Americans. Black Lives Matter!

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  • Aztek says:

    After decades of producing what is one of the most exciting and eclectic artistic and cultural events in our country, there are forces unknown whom seem to want to make it difficult, and perhaps, impossible to continue this extraordinary display. It appears that with all the (self-imposed) regulations on the table there are questionable issues that form the basis of an inside movement within the government to attempt to “extinguish” the Burning Man. Many in the political arena consider this a “liberal” ceremony. And they are the same ones who try to make the word, “liberal” a four-letter word. If you look hard enough, you will see that this resistance to the Burning Man is a single point within our government.

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  • Br'er George says:

    I think Burning Man should spread out across the country and make smaller cities. That way you can chill the feds and keep the integrity of the Burning Man message.
    Otherwise it’s gonna be courts, lawyers and cops for youse guys!

    Bring us Burning Man’s head up here to the Rust Belt in Buffalo! We’ll do a winter/yule burning!

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  • Mouse says:

    This is pure love. Leave as is. Thank you kindly.

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  • MJ says:

    I trust an assessment based on a thorough investigation (WRC Technical Report). Some conclusions are listed below. Overall, it seems the BLM is drawing their conclusions based on insufficient evidence and highly flawed assumptions — typical behavior seen throughout the majority of government departments in our existing administration.
    – Although the ALAN levels associated with the Burning Man Event are in stark
    contrast to the natural levels present for most of the year, the ALAN levels are quite reasonable compared to other population centers in Nevada.
    – Nonetheless, ALAN pollution levels may be impacted to a great extent by increased
    use of non-shielded lights and misdirected light sources (resulting in the increased
    radiance per person).
    – Increasing the population at Black Rock City can be expected to have a small impact
    upon the level of ALAN.

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  • Milk says:

    This comes from someone who lives in a not so good side of town. I would never sleep on the streets of my city, I’ve slept outside campfires and near tents at burning man and couldn’t feel safer. The BLM needs to focus on other cities, this city is pure love!

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    • Yolanda Tammara Jones says:

      Not living on the good side of town means you need to protect your shoes. So if you’re sleeping on the streets, always take your shoes off and put them under your head while sleeping.

      And after that, save a few thousand dollars and go to Burning Man and you’ll have a transformative experience and become enlightened like the rest of us. It’s so awesome! I’ve made thousands of dollars off Instagram pics. You can do this, also. PM me and I’ll tell you how to do it. We need to stick together.

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  • Jimmy-the-james says:

    I was just hoping to have a few drinks and meet a girl and eventually have consensual sex on the playa. But now I feel like I’m part of the problem. To get to-and-from to Burning Man is going to cost be about 2k. I live in SF and for that money I could spend a week at the Bunny Ranch and get married to the best one.

    I’m so confused. What is that all about? Why are we doing this? I don’t get it.

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  • Julie says:

    If Larry was still alive this wouldn’t be happening. The female leadership at BMorg is stabbing themselves in the back right now to see who controls the gold ring. Meanwhile, treating BLM like the enemy. So while these ladies try to control a rudderless ship, the government is going to sink it under their stamping feet.

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  • Doofus Bob says:

    You are all a bunch of nut bags. There is minimal dust on Black Rock Desert when the crust of the soil is undisturbed. Was out there in late April with high winds and no dust. Who in their right mind would go to a place to breath high concentrations of PM- 10 dust during the event when the soil is disturbed? So much for environmentalism!

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