Marcilynn A. Burke

Marcilynn A. BurkeMarcilynn A. Burke was designated by President Barack Obama as the Acting Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management (ASLM) at the U.S. Department of the Interior on July 29, 2011. As the Acting ASLM, she helps develop the land use, resource management, and regulatory oversight policies that are administered by four Federal agencies. With over 12,000 employees, these agencies—the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), and the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE)—are stewards of vast and diverse public resources. They endeavor to ensure the appropriate management and use of Federal lands and waters and their associated mineral and non-mineral resources, as well as the appropriate regulation of surface coal mining. The geographic scope of these activities is considerable, encompassing the continental United States and large parts of Alaska.  

Given the vastness of the geography and substance for which ASLM has oversight responsibilities, it is vitally important to foster positive, productive relationships among stakeholders—including tribal, state, and local governments; environmental groups; industry; recreationists; and other interested parties—to carry out the Department’s management responsibilities. These responsibilities include providing opportunities for energy development on- and off-shore (oil & gas, coal, wind, solar, geothermal, etc.); non-energy mineral development (phosphate, sodium, potassium, etc.); recreation; timber; grazing; and the conservation of natural, historical, cultural, and other resources. The bureaus’ activities have positive impacts on communities and businesses of all sizes, ranging from the hundreds of thousands of jobs that the bureaus’ activities support to the billions of dollars in economic benefits derived from the management of Federal resources. These bureaus also play a tremendous role in protecting America’s outdoor heritage so that present and future generations may appreciate and enjoy it.  

Burke’s work at the Department includes providing leadership for the Department’s Tribal Consultation Team, which consists of representatives from each of the Department’s bureaus and offices and tribal leaders from each of the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ 12 regions. The Team is charged with developing a government-to-government consultation policy for the Department. She also provides guidance in policy development for compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act and other historical and cultural resource laws. Burke represents the Department on the White House Business Council as well, having conducted roundtable discussions in several states including Alaska, Arizona, and Idaho.  

Before becoming the Acting ASLM, Burke served as the BLM’s Deputy Director for Programs and Policy. While BLM Deputy Director, Burke played a critical leadership role in the development and implementation of oil and gas leasing reform as well as the BLM’s policy on management of lands with wilderness characteristics. She continues to provide guidance in these areas as Acting ASLM.  

To serve in these positions at the Department, she has taken a leave of absence from the University of Houston Law Center (UHLC) in Texas, where she is a tenured Associate Professor of Law. At UHLC she teaches courses in property law, land use law, and laws governing the management of Federal lands/natural resources. Her research highlights the socio-economic impacts of these laws and programs on private property. Her articles have been published in highly regarded journals such as the Notre Dame Law Review and the Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum. Burke’s expertise in renewable energy, endangered species, and other natural resource issues supports the Department’s efforts to facilitate balanced energy development and to protect treasured landscapes, as well as the advancement of other natural resource and land use priorities.  

Burke previously practiced law with the firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton in Washington, D.C. At the firm she focused on environmental law, antitrust, and civil and criminal litigation. Upon graduation from law school, she served as a law clerk for the Honorable Raymond A. Jackson of the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. 

Burke received her bachelor’s degree in International Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She obtained her law degree from Yale Law School, where she was an editor for both the Yale Journal of Law and Feminism and the Yale Journal of International Law.