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UPDATE: Should U.S. Drill, Mine for Energy on National Monuments?

by Countable | 9.18.17

What's the story?

UPDATE: After months of public comment - including a last-minute advertising push by conservation groups - Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is recommending modifications to almost a dozen national monuments. This includes permitting commercial fishing in protected waters in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and shrinking Bears Ears monument in Utah, which houses thousands of ancient Native American sites.

Why does it matter?

In a memorandum obtained by the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal, Zinke wrote:

"It appears that certain monuments were designated to prevent economic activity such as grazing, mining and timber production rather than to protect specific objects.”

Zinke suggests, as the Post explained, that "Trump use his authority under the Antiquities Act to change each of the 10 sites’ proclamations to permit activities that are now restricted."

The Interior Secretary does acknowledge in the report that a majority of public comments on the monuments review "were overwhelmingly in favor of maintaining existing monuments." However, Zinke says this was the result of “a well-orchestrated national campaign organized by multiple organizations.”

Countable’s most-recent article on this matter appears below.

Should U.S. Drill, Mine for Energy on National Monuments?

There’s a last minute push to save the national monument designation of areas across the country.

As reported by CBS Denver, "Conservation groups are airing TV ads, planning rallies and creating parody websites in a last-minute blitz to stop Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke from downsizing or eliminating national monument areas that cover large swaths of land and water from Maine to California."

On Thursday, Zinke will announce to the President his recommendations of whether to downsize, or eliminate, national monument areas. It follows a four-month review by Zinke in response to the President’s executive order in April that directed the Interior Department to examine recently-designated national monuments.

As Montana Public Radio explained, "The Trump administration has been pushing for increased energy development on public lands, including those protected as monuments."

Zinke seems to share the President’s agenda. During his review, the Interior Secretary made comments that sources on federal lands can and should be leveraged to make the U.S. a dominant force in global energy markets. Zinke told Reuters, "Energy dominance gives us the ability to supply our allies with energy, as well as to leverage our aggressors, or in some cases our enemies, like Iran."

Opponents have poured more than $2 million into the ads targeting Zinke. This includes the outdoor apparel company Patagonia, which spent $700,000 for a series of ads – the first they’ve ever done – asking Zinke to "keep public lands in public hands."

"We're all-hands-on-deck on monuments right now," said Aaron Weiss, a spokesman for the Center for Western Priorities, told The Hill. “Clearly across the conservation world, recognizing this is completely unprecedented, I think that’s part of the reason why you’ve seen the scale of the response you’re seeing.”

Kathleen Sgamma, the president of the Western Energy Alliance industry group, disagreed: "We have plenty of ways to protect natural resources on federal lands, and we don’t need these huge monument designations that really affect the livelihoods of local communities," she said.

What do you think?

Should the federal government open up lands previously protected under national monument designation for energy development, like drilling and mining? Use the Take Action button to tell your reps what you think.

–Josh Herman


Trump Signs Executive Order 'Reviewing' Recently Designated National Monuments

Should Trump Rescind the National Monuments Obama Protected?

Zinke Argues for Balance Between Nat'l Monuments & Economic Development

(Photo Credit: CampPhoto / iStockphoto)



Written by Countable

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