Utah auction pulls in less than the price of one Ford Focus

What’s more important to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke — protecting Utah’s most endangered population of sage-grouse or leasing their habitat to oil and gas companies for pocket change? An auction held this Tuesday made the answer quite clear — nothing is more important than profits for oil and gas companies, even protecting imperiled wildlife.

Sage-grouse, a chicken-sized bird once widespread in the West, have seen their populations drop dramatically in recent years, thanks in part to oil and gas development. In an effort to keep the sage-grouse off the endangered species list — a move that would limit all forms of development throughout the region — ranchers, conservationists, Western governors and the Obama administration spent years working on collaborative plans to help the species rebound. Widely hailed as a success, the plans resulted in former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announcing that the sage-grouse would avoid the endangered species list. Unfortunately, this success story is under assault. (more…)

Written by on Thursday, September 14th, 2017

September 2017 is quickly becoming one of the most devastating months in history for America’s national parks and forests. From Montana to Oregon to California, national treasures in Glacier National Park, the Columbia River Gorge, and Yosemite National Park have been destroyed or threatened by wildfires.

While any single season or event cannot be attributed to climate change alone, this summer’s fires, along with the string of hurricanes that are developing one after another in the Atlantic Ocean, and record-breaking heat in the West, are all consistent with what scientists have been warning about for years: humans have changed the earth’s climate, and that change is costing both lives and billions of dollars across the country. (more…)

Written by on Thursday, September 7th, 2017

As Congress returns from August recess, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) is back to work on his pet project: advancing bills that hand over control of America’s publicly owned land and natural resources to states and private companies. This week, the House Natural Resources Committee, chaired by Rep. Bishop, is holding subcommittee hearings on multiple bills that would undermine public management of America’s national lands.

Written by on Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

As President Trump continues his unprecedented and illegal attack on America’s national monuments, he and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke are being egged on by the Sutherland Institute, the Utah arm of the Koch brothers’ right-wing policy network.

In a clumsy attempt to justify Secretary Zinke’s secret report to the president, Sutherland’s Matt Anderson is writing op-eds that cite misleading data to claim President Obama used the Antiquities Act in unprecedented ways to “lock up” hundreds of millions of acres of American land. (more…)

Written by on Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

When Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke sent the White House a secret report that reportedly recommends erasing large swaths of four or more national monuments, the reaction was, understandably, swift and harsh.

But not at the Department of the Interior.

Following the lead of a White House in which the president is given a folder of only positive news clips every day, the Interior Department sent out a press release that shows just how far the department had to go to find praise for Secretary Zinke’s secret plan. (more…)

Written by on Friday, August 25th, 2017

As the Trump administration continues to stoke a debate around commemorating our nation’s history, it’s increasingly clear whose culture they don’t care about. Yesterday, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke reportedly recommended that President Trump eliminate nearly 90 percent of Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, an area sacred to Native American tribes across the Southwest. This unprecedented and illegal action would endanger tens of thousands of archaeological sites over an area the size of Glacier National Park.

For more than 80 years, tribes and conservationists have worked to protect this stunning red rock landscape full of ruins, rock art and other cultural sites. Last year, at the urging of five Southwestern tribes, President Obama designated Bears Ears National Monument to celebrate Native American cultural history and to protect these archaeological sites from looting and vandalism. (more…)

Written by on Friday, August 25th, 2017

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is due to submit his recommendations about the future of 27 national monuments to President Trump on Thursday.

But has he actually turned in his work to the White House? Reporters have spent all day trying to get a straight answer. With the 101st anniversary of the National Park Service looming on Friday, would Secretary Zinke and President Trump try to erase parks the very same week? (more…)

Written by on Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017

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

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FROM THE BLOG


States step up to lead on conservation and public lands policy in the Trump era

At a time when Westerners are feeling less than confident about the federal government’s commitment to respecting and protecting our...

October 17th, 2017

Oh, the places Secretary Ryan Zinke will go (for political fundraisers and speeches)

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has been all over the news in recent weeks — and it hasn’t been the kind...

October 17th, 2017

Anti-park congressman introduces “No New Parks” bill

Congressman Bishop’s attack on the Antiquities Act is not a serious piece of legislation. It’s a manifesto put forward by...

October 10th, 2017