An interview with pollsters Lori Weigel and Dave Metz about the 2017 Conservation in the West Poll from the Colorado College State of the Rockies Project.

Host/Producer: Aaron Weiss
Music: Purple Planet

Written by on Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

Ryan Zinke supports eliminating rules that reduce methane waste

The U.S. Congress is engaged in an unprecedented attack on common sense rules that ensure oil, gas, and coal development proceeds safely and responsibly. But don’t expect the soon-to-be Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to act as a check on Congress’ belligerence. On the contrary, Secretary-designee Zinke’s political career has been bankrolled by the very companies advocating for fewer safeguards on their development activities.

Take the decision by the House of Representatives to eliminate rules designed to limit natural gas waste from drilling on public lands. Set by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), these standards seek to limit venting and flaring of natural gas, while ensuring that gas owned by American taxpayers doesn’t just go up in smoke. (more…)

Written by on Monday, February 6th, 2017

New poll paints a picture of the West where public lands are sacred and a balanced approach to energy development is key

Colorado College’s seventh annual Conservation in the West poll, released this week, offers a policy roadmap to inform the Trump administration’s approach to managing the West’s national public lands. It makes clear the values and priorities of Westerners and offers valuable guidance for policymakers willing to listen.

It’s simple really; as Montana Governor Steve Bullock remarked, “The national political winds change direction every few years, but a passion for the outdoors and strong support for American public lands remain constant in the Mountain West.”

The bipartisan poll surveyed 400 voters in each of seven Western states (Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming), for a total of 2,800 people. 37 percent of respondents voted for Donald Trump, 34 percent for Hillary Clinton, and 12 percent supported a third party.

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Written by on Monday, February 6th, 2017

Politicians and the Trump administration are turning their tough talk into action

When it comes to dismantling safeguards for our air, water and public lands, it seems Congress and the Trump administration are intent on turning tough talk into action. Thursday, Congress moved to eliminate a rule to keep coal mining pollution out of streams and a requirement for oil companies to disclose payment to foreign governments. These are not just attacks on our public health, but a tip of the hat to corporate sponsors and campaign donors.

Congressional leaders are using an obscure law called the Congressional Review Act (CRA). Passed in 1996, the CRA allows Congress to nullify recently-passed regulations with a simple majority vote. Once these rules are rolled back they cannot return, as a provision of the CRA prohibits an agency from passing “substantially similar” regulations in the future. (more…)

Written by on Friday, February 3rd, 2017

America’s oil and gas sector thrived under President Obama’s leadership.

Far from the “war on oil” claims made by President Trump, his allies in Congress, and industry lobbyists, the data provided below prove that U.S. oil and gas production skyrocketed over the last eight years, that oil and gas companies are holding millions of acres of public lands leases, most of which are not being used, and that companies continue to receive a sweetheart deal for producing oil and gas on public lands.

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Written by on Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

We learned more about Congressman Ryan Zinke’s plans to run the Interior Department during his confirmation hearing Tuesday. The Montanan, who’s vying to run the department that oversees the management of national parks, wildlife refuges, and other public lands, professed his admiration for Theodore Roosevelt, whose legacy of conserving our national public lands lives on today.

While the desire to follow in Roosevelt’s footsteps is admirable, Zinke’s responses raised serious questions about whether he will conserve our public lands and bolster the outdoor economy or cater to the oil, gas, and coal companies that have donated to his political campaigns.

Throughout his career in Congress, Zinke has talked a good game about supporting our public lands and ensuring access for hunting, fishing, camping and hiking. He even resigned as a delegate to the Republican National Convention over an anti-public lands platform and has supported re-authorizing the popular Land and Water Conservation Fund.

However, actions speak louder than words.

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Written by on Thursday, January 19th, 2017

Mike Noel, a little-known state Representative from Utah, is publicly campaigning to run the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. He has put his own odds of being selected to run the agency at “maybe better than 50–50.” Utah Senator Orrin Hatch has even taken to publicly lobbying for Noel.

Rep. Noel would be an extreme pick to direct the BLM and, if selected, an early indication that neither Congressman Ryan Zinke — the nominee for Interior Secretary — or President-elect Trump are serious about upholding their promise to maintain U.S. public lands and fight efforts to dispose of American-owned lands into state and private hands.

Below are the three top reasons Rep. Noel is absolutely ill-suited to lead the BLM.

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Written by on Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

As more than 20,000 people descend on Salt Lake City for this week’s Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, convention organizers are under increasing pressure to move the convention out of Utah.

Peter Metcalf, the co-founder of Black Diamond Equipment, penned a blistering op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune calling on the trade show to “leave the state in disgust” over the “all-out assault” on Utah’s public lands that’s being waged by the state’s political leaders.

Black Diamond was one of the pioneers in building Utah’s outdoor recreation economy when it arrived in 1991, setting a foundation that’s grown into an industry that employs more than 120,000 people and generates $12 billion in economic activity in the state.

Now Metcalf has had enough of the anti-public lands agenda of Utah Governor Gary Herbert, Congressman Rob Bishop, and the rest of Utah’s congressional delegation. He calls their efforts “an existential threat” to the outdoor industry, and says that by keeping the Outdoor Retailer show in Utah, the industry is “complicit collaborators in our own demise.”

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Written by on Thursday, January 12th, 2017

Nine questions to monitor on public lands and outdoor recreation in statehouses across the West

As we emerge from an historically divisive election season, elected officials are getting back to work in state capitols across the Rocky Mountain West this month to carry out the business of legislating and governing. As state legislative sessions get underway, the Center for Western Priorities will be monitoring policy proposals concerning public lands and our region’s growing outdoor economy.

Typically the dominion of leaders in the U.S. Congress alongside land managers at the U.S. Forest Service and the Interior Department, state decision-makers have started to take an increasingly active interest in the use and preservation of the West’s public lands.

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Written by on Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

In this episode of Go West, Young Podcast, we talk with Clayton Elliott, executive director of Montana Conservation Voters, and Jessica Goad, communications director at Conservation Colorado, about their priorities as state legislatures convene across the West.

Learn more in CWP’s 2017 Western States Legislative Brief.

We always welcome feedback about the show at podcast@westernpriorities.org.

Host/producer: Aaron Weiss

Music: Purple Planet

Written by on Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

Today's Latest

Coal-conomics

Navajo Generating Station, Salt River Project New Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is promising to “look at everything across the board” when it comes to coal on public lands. Zinke suggested to reporters on Friday that Interior could both jump-start coal leasing and increase royalties for taxpayers. The catch, of course, is that economic fundamentals are moving […]

March 6th, 2017

Clumsy at best, irresponsible at worst

The federal hiring freeze brings chaos at Montana’s national parks and forests, public lands supporters to rally today at noon in Helena, Montana, and more.

January 30th, 2017

A monumental legacy

New CWP story map walks through the years of conservation under Obama, listen to the former Deputy Secretary of the Interior Mike Connor talk about the challenges facing public lands, and more.

January 30th, 2017

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