Washington Post reports that the Interior intentionally skewed its national monuments review to favor industrial interests

Credit: Bob Wick/BLM

In news that surprises almost no one, emails and documents obtained by the Washington Post reveal that the U.S. Department of the Interior specifically sought out evidence in its review of 27 national monuments last year to justify shrinking and opening up some of the protected lands to extractive industries—while it repeatedly ignored evidence in favor of conservation. The review, conducted by Secretary Ryan Zinke, eventually led to significant reductions in the sizes of Utah's Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. According to the Washington Post, documents released by the Interior in response to FOIA requests (and later retracted) show a coordinated effort by federal officials to dismiss evidence demonstrating the monuments' positive impacts—such as boosted tourism, less vandalism of sacred and cultural sites, and more archaeological finds. The Interior Department later removed the documents from its website, but the Washington Post's reporting comports with what we've long suspected: The administration's national monuments review has always been about shrinking protected lands for the benefit of extractive industries, no matter the cost to the public. 

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