Interior Department is shutting out experts and the public

Like all federal agencies, the U.S. Department of the Interior has long relied on outside expertise to advise it on the management of hundreds of millions of acres of America’s public lands. But now that the Trump administration is considering huge changes to land use policies, the agency is no longer interested in other viewpoints. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is suspending more than 200 citizen advisory panels while his agency reviews the “charter and charge” of each panel. This would entail postponing various meetings through at least September—at a time when major new policy changes, such as the reviewing of national monument designations and the opening of public lands to energy development, are expected soon. Suspending advisory panels and canceling their meetings shows that the only policy input welcomed by this administration is that of polluting industries that would benefit from less protection of our public lands. How the public fares under these new policies doesn’t seem to matter anymore. Zinke is currently on his way out West, but unlike his predecessor, Sally Jewell, who always took the time to meet with local citizens to discuss the agency’s land management policies, Zinke has not announced any opportunities for the public to meet with him during his trip.

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