Fighting fires, or shifting public lands from federal control?
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, in a press briefing Tuesday on California’s raging forest fires, called for more management of federal forest lands to be shifted to local authorities, arguing that this would help prevent fires.
Trump slashes size of Utah national monuments, faces court challenges
President Trump signed two proclamations at the Utah state Capitol, cutting the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments to less than 40 percent of their original size and opening 2 million acres (3,125 square miles) to "hunting, grazing and responsible economic development." Tribes and environmental groups said they would go to court to block what a think tank called "the largest elimination of protected areas in U.S. history."
Reduce two more national monuments, Zinke says in final report
Days after President Trump cut 2 million acres from a pair of national monuments in Utah, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recommended reductions of two additional monuments, Gold Butte and Cascade-Siskiyou, to allow “traditional use” of federal land.
Dems question Trump’s authority to shrink national monuments
Two Democratic senators questioned if President Trump has the authority to slash two national monuments in Utah to 40 percent of their current size, and said the USDA did not recommend removing national forest land from them. Trump is expected to announce the new boundaries for the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments today during a visit to Salt Lake City.
Trump to slash two national monuments in Utah by 60 percent
During a visit to Utah next week, President Trump will announce that he is lopping a combined 2 million acres from the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, reducing them to 37 percent of their current size, said the Washington Post.
Trump plans to reduce size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase monuments
When President Trump visits Utah in December, he will announce reductions in the size of the 1.35-million-acre Bears Ears and the 1.9-million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, "a move that is likely to spur an instant court battle," said the Salt Lake Tribune. Trump told Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, "I'm approving the Bears Ears recommendation for you ... " according to the senator's office.
Zinke plan for federal land: Drill, baby, drill
The Interior Department would auction off millions of acres of public land for oil and gas development, according to a draft obtained by The Nation of the department's strategic plan for the next five years. "It states that the DOI is committed to achieving 'American energy dominance' through the exploitation of 'vast amounts' of untapped energy reserves on public lands."
Interior’s sage grouse plan may affect western ranchers
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.
New bill would curb size of national monuments
Rep. Rob Bishop from Utah has worked up a bill to limit new national monuments to 640 acres, with any designations larger than that requiring environmental impact statements and potentially approval from relevant state and county officials, says Deseret News. The bill is slated to come before the House Committee on Natural Resources, which Bishop chairs.
Whistleblower resigns at Interior, says Zinke should do the same
An Interior Department employee who says he was reassigned because he warned about the threats posed by climate change resigned in a letter that accuses Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke of poor leadership, wasting taxpayer money, and ignoring clear evidence of the damage caused by global warming.
Zinke’s travel raises eyebrows
The Inspector General has launched an investigation into Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s air travel, after complaints that Zinke was using a private plane owned by an oil executive. That particular flight, from Las Vegas to Zinke’s home state of Montana, cost taxpayers $12,000, according to the Washington Post. But other taxpayer-funded flights, including one to speak at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, are also being questioned.
Zinke says 30 percent of Interior workers aren’t loyal to Trump
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.
Conservation groups assail Zinke proposal to open up national monuments
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recommended the White House reduce the size of four national monuments in the West, and change the management of those lands and six other monuments to allow "traditional uses," such as grazing, logging, mining and commercial fishing, according to a leaked memo. Conservation and environmental groups denounced Zinke for ceding the future of invaluable federal lands to, as the Sierra Club said, "the goodwill of polluting industries."
Former Interior Secretary Sally Jewel defends Bears Ears Monument
Former Interior Secretary Sally Jewel calls claims that public groups were kept out of the conversation during planning meetings for the Bears Ears National Monument “nonsense.” The monument was designated by President Obama during his final days in office, but current Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has recommended that the monument’s boundaries be downsized.
Zinke won’t dismantle any national monuments, though some might get smaller
After a controversial four-month review of 27 U.S. national monuments, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke won’t recommend that the White House do away with any of them. He did say, however, that “a handful of sites” could see their boundaries changed or shrunken, says the Associated Press.
Farmer group wants Interior to convene ‘God Squad’ over salmon
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.
Interior Dept. investigating Zinke’s healthcare calls
The Interior Department's Office of Inspector General is undertaking a preliminary investigation into phone calls made by Secretary Ryan Zinke to Alaska’s Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, warning them that that they could lose their standing with the Trump administration in light of Murkowski’s vote against repealing the Affordable Care Act.
Zinke opts for no change in Missouri Breaks National Monument
As part his review of two dozen national monuments, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says he will recommend no change in 378,000-acre Upper Missouri River Breaks monument in central Montana. Zinke is under orders from President Trump to report by Labor Day whether the government should scale back the boundaries of national monuments designated since 1995 and covering more than 100,000 acres; Bears Ears in southeastern Utah was singled out for special attention by Trump.
Zinke loads Interior with former oil-and-gas employees
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is stocking the Interior Department with staffers who’ve spent years working for the extractive energy industry, suggesting an agency increasingly less friendly toward public-lands conservation, says Western Values Project, a progressive advocacy organization. …