Email dump confirms shrinking nat’l monuments was designed to favor logging, fossil-fuel interests

Zinke was supposed to be supervising an objective study of 27 national monuments. He and his minions were actually burying the benefits of keeping the national monuments the size they had been designated and emphasizing how shrinking the monuments would be good for the extractive industries

…..Zinke’s sham review was rigged from the beginning to open up more public lands to fossil fuel, mining and timber industries,” said Randi Spivak, public lands director at the Center for Biological Diversity.”

Democrats also blasted the report. Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona noted, for instance, “The review has been secretive. It has been opaque and it has been contrived. I say it’s contrived because the conclusion was already written.”

Email dump confirms shrinking nat’l monuments was designed to favor logging, fossil-fuel interests

Meteor Blades, Daily Kos staff writer

attribution: Flickr/CC/Bureau of Land ManagementPart of the original Bears Ears National Monument before Pr*sident Trump moved to shrink it, a matter being fought over in court.

Part of the original Bears Ears National Monument before Pr*sident Trump moved to shrink it, a matter being fought over in court.

Incompetence has given environmentalists and other public lands advocates confirmation that the Interior Department’s review of national monuments carried out last year was no balanced affair but a move intent on advancing the interests of loggers and drillers. As reported by The Washington Post on Monday and Tuesday, the incompetence came in the form of a release of unedited email documents under the Freedom of Information Act.

Dino Grandoni reported that these “show more candid conversations than ordinary FOIA releases because the Interior Department sent out the unredacted correspondence by accident.” Officials there removed the email documents from the Interior website and urged anyone who had downloaded them to hit delete.

What the correspondence shows is that Interior officials were focusing their attention on what could be extracted from public lands if these lost their designation as national monuments or were shrunken: timber, fish, minerals and fossil fuels. What was circumstantial before is now clear. It’s as if these industries were clients instead of constituents.

As ordered by Pr*sident Trump, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke undertook a review of 27 national monuments in the spring of 2017 with an eye toward eliminating some and lopping off hunks of others. Last August, when the review was completed with the recommendation that the acreage of some national monuments be greatly diminished, the response of foes was immediate: “Zinke’s sham review was rigged from the beginning to open up more public lands to fossil fuel, mining and timber industries,” said Randi Spivak, public lands director at the Center for Biological Diversity,

Democrats also blasted the report. Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona noted, for instance, “The review has been secretive. It has been opaque and it has been contrived. I say it’s contrived because the conclusion was already written.”

Now we know that wasn’t hyperbole.

Zinke was supposed to be supervising an objective study of 27 national monuments. He and his minions were actually burying the benefits of keeping the national monuments the size they had been designated and emphasizing how shrinking the monuments would be good for the extractive industries. That wasn’t some new agenda from Zinke. Opening up more highly protected public lands to exploitation (and keeping less protected land from obtaining better protection) have been right-wing goals for decades.

The FOIA documents are rife with examples of the reviewers’ intent. For instance, The Post’s Juliet Eilperin reported Monday that the acting assistant secretary of lands and minerals management asked last July what would happen if Trump decided to reverse President Barack Obama’s expansion of Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. Bureau of Land Management acting deputy director John Ruhs wrote that this would be a blessing for logging companies. “Previous timber sale planning and development in the [expansion area] can be immediately resumed.” 

Ultimately, Trump cut the acreage of two of the national monuments, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. But before that shrinking can actually take place, the courts will have the final say, and environmental advocates who have sued in the matter are convinced that law and court precedent are in their favor and that the monument reductions will be reversed.

Add Interior’s mistaken document dump to the existing evidence—okaying the Dakota Access Pipeline, ending the public land coal leasing moratorium, Zinke’s packed schedule of meetings with fossil fuel executives, killing the Clean Power Plan, letting cars emit more greenhouse gas emissions—and it can be seen that giving full rein to the extraction industries is a huge priority for the Trump regime. But as shown by the retraction of their unredacted emails, Interior officials show that even they can blush a little bit when their intentions are publicly exposed.

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