Climate + Energy

Zinke: American Voices Don’t Count


Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which is under attack by President Trump and Interior Secretary Zinke.  Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management.

In the wake of the announcement from President Trump’s Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, that he intends to “review” more than two dozen American National Monuments protected since 1996, people are understandably upset.

After all, President Trump described the designation of these National Monuments as “abuses,” signaling his distaste that these iconic American lands were protected for their cultural and natural values.  With Secretary Zinke announcing his intent to review whether all or portions of these Monuments should have been protected in the first place, the writing on the wall is that all of these landscapes are on the chopping block.

Not surprisingly, people are outraged.  One need look no further than the onslaught of opposition provoked after the Interior Department made its announcement on Twitter.  Seriously, check it out, not only is it reflective of American sentiment, it’s entertaining as hell.

What was shocking, though, was the Interior Department’s response to the American public on Twitter.

For example, when people expressed concern over the practical impact of diminishing or eliminating protections for National Monuments, the Interior Department insinuated that it doesn’t matter, “the land is still federally owned and managed by Interior.”  That’s little consolation considering that the oil and gas industry is demanding that National Monuments, like Bears Ears, be auctioned off for oil and gas fracking.

The worst, however, was when the Interior Department–on multiple occasions–told the public that their comments didn’t count.  How ironic given that Secretary Zinke himself has claimed there was no public involvement in the National Monument designations subject to his review.

Seriously, check out these responses:

Zinke even tried to dismiss the ensuing criticism by asserting that his Interior Department’s Twitter feed was the “same as always.”

It’s not surprising the response this garnered.

Trump’s and Zinke’s attacks on our National Monuments are unprecedented, but they seem only to be empowering and motivating those who love these American lands and what they represent.  While the fossil fuel industry may be clamoring to dismantle National Monument protections, Americans are standing up to this attack.

It’s a good thing.  Because if we can’t save our National Monuments, then of our public lands will be safe while President Trump is in office.