To: Colorado Reporters & Editors
From: Aaron Weiss, Center for Western Priorities
Re: Four questions for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke at Rocky Mountain National Park
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will make an appearance at Rocky Mountain National Park on Sunday. Secretary Zinke has repeatedly dodged questions about the warnings he received regarding the risks and downsides of shrinking national monuments in Utah, as well as the Montana development deal involving the chairman of Halliburton and a nonprofit controlled by Ryan and Lola Zinke.
In the event that Secretary Zinke takes questions on Sunday, the Center for Western Priorities suggests the following:
1. Why did your department attempt to redact warnings from BLM staff that without a national monument designation, there would be no way to protect the cultural landscape of Grand Staircase-Escalante? Why did you ignore those warnings when you recommended President Trump eliminate a million acres from the monument? Now that the American people know you’ve been blacking out basic facts from public documents, will you un-redact the previous national monument documents that have already been released?
2. You previously told the Senate that there is not “one square inch of land that has been removed from federal protection,” yet plans are already underway to open a copper mineinside the original boundaries of Grand Staircase-Escalante. Given your previous assurances to Congress about protecting land, will you let that copper mine open?
3. Why did you keep the meeting with the chairman of Halliburton and the Montana real estate developer off your official calendar? If everything was above-board, as you claim, why list it as “HOLD,” rather than being transparent about who you’re meeting with?
4. How are the American people supposed to believe your claim that you spent four hours with the real estate developer and Halliburton chairman David Lesar, during which time you gave them a private tour of the Lincoln Memorial and went to dinner at a beer hall in Washington, DC, but didn’t talk about your long-standing dreams of opening a brewery in Whitefish? Yet, mysteriously, a brewery is included in their real estate development plans, which you emailed to your assistant at Interior?