Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren announced her public lands policy platform on Monday, which includes an end to new fossil fuel drilling leases and an expansion of renewable energy production. Meanwhile, candidate Bernie Sanders said he supports imposing a moratorium on agribusiness mergers.
In a move that unnerved many environmentalists, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced last summer that the agency would be reviewing the federal conservation plan for sage grouse — a bird that matters at least as much to ranchers as it does to conservationists. In the West, sage grouse has become the symbol of an urgent effort to save the larger sagebrush ecosystem from disappearing to cropland, wildfires and invasive species.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said he took over the 70,000-person department certain that “I got 30 percent of the crew that’s not loyal to the flag,” meaning President Trump and his agenda, reported the Associated Press. Zinke said he’s pursuing a major reorganization that would move much of the department’s decision making outside of Washington in an effort to break up entrenched attitudes.
A group representing farmers in Washington State and Oregon is urging the Interior Department to convene the “God squad” — an interagency committee empowered to override the Endangered Species Act — over complaints that the act's protections on salmon are hurting growers and others.
With the release of the 2018 White House Budget proposal, environmentalists and public lands advocates are worried over a $1.4 billion (10.9 percent) cut to the Interior Department. The proposal targets federal lands, opens oil drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), and cancels money set aside to bring economic opportunities to Appalachia — often in the form of farming ventures.