Breaking his promise to ensure taxpayers receive a fair return from oil, gas, and coal development on U.S. public lands, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and the Interior Department plan to rescind 2016 royalty reforms at a cost of $75 million annually to U.S. taxpayers.

At issue is a rule implemented by the Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR) — Consolidated Federal Oil & Gas and Federal & Indian Coal Valuation Reform — which updated decades old rules on taxpayer-owned oil, gas, and coal. The rule, often referred to as “the ONRR rule,” closed a major royalty loophole, first reported by Reutersthat allowed energy companies to sell coal, oil, and gas to their own companies at significantly depressed prices, thereby dodging royalty payments owed to taxpayers. (more…)

Written by on Friday, August 4th, 2017

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has been in the hot seat since the Alaska Dispatch News reported that Zinke threatened to use the weight of the Interior Department to hurt Alaskans if Senator Lisa Murkowski did not vote for the so-called “skinny repeal” health care bill. (more…)

Written by on Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

New analysis finds near-unanimous support of Bears Ears and other national monuments as public comment period closes, including a 9‑to‑1 margin among Utahns

Written by on Monday, July 10th, 2017

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke built a web of lies yesterday while announcing his recommendation that President Trump eliminate significant portions of the recently protected Bears Ears National Monument in southern Utah.

In a call with reporters, he claimed that “talking to the tribes, they’re very happy,” later reiterating that “overall, in talking to tribal leadership… they’re pretty happy and willing to work with us.” In the hours since the press conference call, it has become overwhelmingly clear that could not be further from the truth.

(more…)

Written by on Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

New analysis of submitted comments finds overwhelming in-state support for national monuments

A new analysis of more than 100,000 individual comments submitted to regulations.gov finds Utah residents expressed overwhelming support for protecting Bears Ears and Grand Staircase–Escalante national monuments.

In April, President Trump ordered Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to begin a 120-day review of national monument designations dating back to 1996. Secretary Zinke must present a 45-day interim report on Bears Ears National Monument this coming weekend. During the 15-day public comment period on Bears Ears, more than 100,000 Americans submitted comments directly to regulations.gov. While the comment form did not require commenters to disclose their zip code or home state, a large number of commenters stated they were Utah residents.

A full-text search of those comments by the Center for Western Priorities found more than 1,200 self-identified Utahns. Of those Utah residents, 88 percent expressed support for keeping national monuments intact, while 11 percent requested President Trump shrink or rescind monuments. (more…)

Written by on Friday, June 9th, 2017

President Trump’s proposed Interior Department budget for Fiscal Year 2018 has evoked many reactions, cheers from the oil and gas industry and jeers from almost everyone else. The proposed budget would increase funding for energy development on public lands while cutting virtually everything else, including the National Park Service. Overall the budget would cut the Department of the Interior’s budget by roughly 12 percent.

Last month the National Park Service released its budget justification, explaining the requested funding levels and their impacts. If passed, there’s little doubt that President Trump’s budget would decimate America’s national parks, leaving our treasured lands from Yellowstone to Yosemite and Acadia to the Grand Canyon in deterioration.

Below are quotes from the National Park Service document that give a sense of the devastating impacts this budget would have for our national parks. (more…)

Written by on Thursday, June 8th, 2017

Here’s how much Anadarko and Noble have invested in legislators and PR firms

In recent years, major oil and gas companies have launched aggressive efforts in Colorado to sway public opinion on the impacts of drilling, elect sympathetic legislators, and defeat efforts to enact commonsense safeguards on oil and gas development. Two companies in particular, Anadarko Petroleum and Noble Energy, have given tens of millions to pro-industry organizations and politicians. In the wake of a fatal home explosion linked to an Anadarko-owned operation in Firestone, Colorado, oil and gas companies are once again going to the well in an attempt at damage control.

A review of Colorado campaign finance records shows that since 2012, Anadarko and Noble have collectively spent more than $21.6 million on state political races and ballot initiatives. Further, tax documents show a public relations front group founded by the two companies received more than $21 million in donations in its first two years of existence.

(more…)

Written by on Thursday, June 1st, 2017

More than 99% of comments gathered back Bears Ears and other national monuments

As 15-day public comment period on the designation of Bears Ears National Monument comes to a close, a new analysis of comments submitted and gathered so far reveals nearly unanimous support for the monument.

The Center for Western Priorities analyzed a representative sample of the roughly 90,000 comments submitted so far at regulations.gov (n=500). Of those comments, 96 percent expressed support for national monument designations, while three percent expressed opposition to monument designations. Roughly half (48.4 percent) of the comments submitted so far refer specifically to Bears Ears National Monument, with a similar 97-to-3 ratio in support among those comments. (more…)

Written by on Thursday, May 25th, 2017

From Jack Abramoff to a state-owned oil company, Trump’s nominee for Deputy Interior Secretary has a lot of explaining to do

When the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee sits down with Deputy Interior Secretary nominee David Bernhardt on Thursday, Bernhardt will have to answer for even more questionable connections than we knew about last month.

At the top of the list: crooked lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and Norway’s state-owned oil company, Statoil. (more…)

Written by on Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

President Trump ignores lessons from the Bush administration to leave national monuments alone

When President Trump issued an executive order threatening dozens of America’s national monuments, he reopened a door firmly closed during the George W. Bush administration. A similar review of monuments launched in 2001 was halted after the national monuments in question proved to be exceptionally popular.

Instead of listening to lessons already learned, President Trump has again called into question America’s overwhelmingly popular conservation legacy. (more…)

Written by on Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

Today's Latest

What pulling out of the Paris agreement could mean for public lands

As President Trump announced his intention to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke experienced climate change first hand on his visit to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.

June 2nd, 2017

CO oil & gas companies spend millions on politicians, PR

A Center for Western Priorities review of Colorado campaign finance records shows that since 2012, Anadarko Petroleum and Noble Energy have collectively spent more than $21.6 million on state political races and ballot initiatives.

June 1st, 2017

Monuments through history

Since President Trump issued his review of national monuments, Utah officials have argued monument designations today are 47 times larger than they were when the Antiquities Act was passed in 1906.

May 31st, 2017

Protected public lands are part of our Western heritage and deserve bipartisan support. @WstrnPriorities