Tag Archives: national monuments

Ryan Zinke wants Trump to downsize even more national monuments.

Today, the president signed two proclamations drastically cutting land from two federal monuments, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, by 80 percent and 45 percent, respectively.

When President Obama designated Bears Ears a national monument last year, it was a huge victory for five Utah tribes — the Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Ute Indian Tribe, Hopi, and the Pueblo of Zuni — who came together in 2015 to push for the preservation of what they estimate are 100,000 cultural and ancestral sites, some dating back to 1300 AD, in the region.

“More than 150 years ago, the federal government removed our ancestors from Bears Ears at gunpoint and sent them on the Long Walk,” Navajo Nation Council Delegate Davis Filfred said in statement. “But we came back.”

The Antiquities Act of 1906 gives the president authority to establish national monuments, largely to thwart looting of archaeological sites. Trump is the first president to shrink a monument in decades.

The five tribes have said they will bring a legal case against the administration — the outcome could redefine the president’s powers to use the Antiquities Act. “We know how to fight and we will fight to defend Bears Ears,” Filfred said.

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Ryan Zinke wants Trump to downsize even more national monuments.

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Psst, Zinke — national monuments create jobs just the way they are!

The fossil fuel industry has largely applauded the administration’s assault on environmental policy, like green-lighting controversial pipelines. Oh, and don’t forget that Trump “canceled” the Paris Climate Agreement.

Now, Politico Pro reports that some industry insiders say the Trump administration’s hasty environmental rule–scrapping has gone too far — and they’re getting worried about what might happen if disaster strikes.

“Every industry wants regulations that make sense,” Brian Youngberg, an energy analyst, told Politico. Trashing too many rules could lead to an environmental catastrophe, and might prompt even stricter regulations down the road.

Imagine a major disaster occurred — say, one akin to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. People might not look kindly upon President Trump’s executive order in April that reversed Obama-era restrictions on offshore drilling. Trump’s move abolished key safety improvements and opened up environmentally sensitive areas in the Gulf, the Arctic, and the Atlantic Ocean to potential oil drilling.

If a disaster were to happen, an anonymous source at an oil and gas company told Politico, “[W]e’d be painted with it as an entire industry.”

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Psst, Zinke — national monuments create jobs just the way they are!

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Here are some of the best public comments on Trump’s national monument executive order.

In an April 26 directive, President Trump called for a review of 27 national monuments created after 1996, claiming there should be more public input on monument designations.

Public lands experts suggested the order was a ploy to open new turf for energy exploration. They said monuments receive plenty of public comment, both from specialists and average Joes.

The experts appear to be right.

Ahead of a June 10 deadline for the Interior Department’s review of Utah’s Bears Ears — among the newest national monuments, and a particularly contentious one — the department received a flood of nearly 150,000 opinions. The great majority implore the administration to leave Bears Ears and the other monuments be.

Poring over 150,000 missives is a definite tl;dr situation — so we pulled some highlights.

“This monument holds immense meaning for the indigenous peoples in the area and to destroy it would continue the erasure of indigenous beliefs and further the genocide of indigenous cultures,” wrote one commenter.

“The air that I breathed in was so much different from the air that I breathed in when I used to live in Korea,” wrote one respondent reminiscing about a trip to Bears Ears. “The visit reminded why our family had immigrated from Korea in first place [sic].”

But it wasn’t all adulations for our “national treasures.”

One comment labeled the designation of Bears Ears an “unjust and unfair federal land grab” — a sentiment echoed by the oil and gas industry. “Undo everything Obama did !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” read another.

The following commenter’s use of caps lock was not at all unique among the responses: “THESE LANDS ARE REAL AND PROVIDE AN REAL CHANCE TO EXPERIENCE SPIRITUAL CONNECTION AND PHYSICAL WONDER. WITHOUT THESE PLACES WE’LL ALL TRAPPED IN OUR IDEOLOGIES AND LIFE BECOMES HELL.”

“Must we destroy everything?” asked one person, while another chided Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to “show some respect for your goddamn country you monkeys.”

And one sly commenter sought to end the discussion on monuments before it began, appealing to Zinke’s unwavering adulation for a former president: “Teddy Roosevelt had the right idea!”

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Here are some of the best public comments on Trump’s national monument executive order.

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Here’s what Trump’s latest executive order means for our national monuments.

The order, which Trump will sign Wednesday, directs the Interior Department to review all national monument designations over 100,000 acres made from 1996 onwards.

That includes between 24 and 40 monuments — notably, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah, and Mojave Trails in California.

During the review, the Interior Department can suggest that monuments be resized, revoked, or left alone, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said at a briefing on Tuesday. We can expect a final report this summer that will tell us which monument designations, if any, will be changed.

Environmental groups are already voicing opposition. If designations are removed, it could make it easier to eliminate protections and open land to special interests like fossil fuels.

Zinke, a self-proclaimed conservationist, said, “We can protect areas of cultural and economic importance and even use federal lands for economic development when appropriate — just as Teddy Roosevelt envisioned.”

In between further adulations of his hero, Zinke said that he would undertake the “enormous responsibility” with care. “No one loves our public lands more than I,” he said. “You can love them as much — but you can’t love them more than I do.”

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Here’s what Trump’s latest executive order means for our national monuments.

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