Emails confirm oil and gas interests behind shrinking monuments

Previously suspected and now confirmed: Oil was a key factor behind the Trump administration’s decision to shrink Bears Ears National Monument. Emails obtained (painstakingly) by the New York Times show that the U.S. Department of the Interior zeroed in on the site specifically for gas and oil exploration. In March 2017, an aide to Utah senator Orrin Hatch emailed an Interior official, asking him to consider resolving “all known minerals conflicts” in the monument, a reference to areas then under federal control that the state wanted to open to oil and gas development. The map President Trump later used to reduce the monument size by 85 percent was virtually the same as the one suggested by Hatch’s aide. The documents also revealed that coal reserves were a factor in shrinking Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, contradicting public statements made last year by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke: “We also have a pretty good idea of, certainly, the oil and gas potential—not much! So Bears Ears isn’t really about oil and gas." Riiight.

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