Interior Secretary Zinke meets mostly with fossil fuel execs on his western tour
In the wake of President Trump’s executive order to review protections for 27 of our national monuments, U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recently completed a trip to the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante monuments in Utah for a firsthand look at two of the public lands in question. Unlike his predecessor, Sally Jewell, who always took the time to meet with local citizens to discuss the agency’s land-management policies, Zinke did not schedule any public meetings during his trip. He also only met with tribal leaders for under an hour, and with a single conservation group for less than 30 minutes. He spent the rest of the four-day trip exclusively in the company of politicians and fossil fuel executives who have fervently called for Trump to rescind or diminish Bears Ears and to allow expanded access to public lands for energy exploitation. Zinke’s meetings with oil and coal CEOs, in particular, reflect Trump’s own extensive meetings with fossil fuel interests, as well as Zinke’s dubious philosophy that drilling and mining are beneficial to public lands. Moreover, Zinke’s refusal to give the tribes, conservation groups, and concerned citizens more than token meetings fits with the Interior Department’s newfound disdain for public input.