The Trump administration is deciding the fate of our public waters—in private

Credit: Ian Shive/USFWS

U.S. Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross sent a report to the White House this week that may or may not contain recommendations to open 11 marine monuments and sanctuaries to oil and gas drilling. The problem is, we don’t know—because the report was not made public. An executive order, “Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy,” issued by Trump in April, required the Commerce Secretary to review all national marine sanctuaries and monuments that have been established or expanded in the last 10 years. Ever since, the American people have a lot to say about the Trump administration’s attempts to mess with our public waters. According to the Marine Conservation Institute, a 45-day public comment period regarding the review received more than 53,000 public comments, 99 percent of which supported protecting these unique habitats. Whether the White House will eventually publish the report is unclear. A similar report by U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on whether to modify national monuments was never released, though a leaked memo did show that Zinke recommended to shrink four monuments despite strong public opposition.

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