Leaders from 16 prominent national conservation and environmental organizations sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke urging him to preserve commonsense energy reforms and ensure the public has a significant say in any review of policies affecting public lands.
The letter was written in response to Secretary Zinke’s March 29 secretarial orders on energy independence, which outlined a 21-day internal review process for several important energy policies. In it, the leaders expressed concern that, under Secretary Zinke, the Interior Department, without any public input, will undo smart land management guidance that took years to develop.
A number of organizations also released a related statement:
“It is very disconcerting that Secretary Zinke could consider throwing out as much as seven years of staff efforts to craft smart, commonsense policies, developed with extensive public input and stakeholder engagement, after just three weeks of review. These policies were written to ensure that our public lands are managed in a smart, safe, responsible and balanced way. Any attempt to repeal or rescind these efforts behind closed doors would ignore Americans’ wishes for how the public lands they own are managed.”
– Jamie Williams, President, The Wilderness Society
“Decisions about the management of our public lands and waters should be made with the full participation of the American people, not by oil and gas industry executives behind closed doors. As a steward of our priceless natural heritage, our clean drinking water supplies and the legacy we leave for future generations, Secretary Zinke must ensure full public input when determining the future of the lands and waters that belong to all of us.”
– Bob Irvin, President and CEO, American Rivers
“It's disturbing that Secretary Zinke would wipe away years of research and stakeholder engagement and weaken protections in an inadequate review process behind closed doors. Secretary Zinke and President Trump know that Americans support stronger safeguards for drinking water, public health, natural resources and our climate and want commonsense oversight of activities that impact our public lands. This Secretarial Order is a brazen attempt to bypass the public to make deeply unpopular changes which will overwhelmingly benefit the fossil fuel industry.”
– Robert Wendelgass, President and CEO, Clean Water Action
“Let’s be clear, our government has statutory responsibilities to preserve our nation’s rich natural resources and address the imposing threats of climate disruption. The Secretary’s order, which strikes down policies to address climate change and foster responsible energy development, will hinder our ability to meet those requirements to conserve our air, lands, water and wildlife. We hope the Secretary does right by the law and current and future generations in his future decision making.”
– Jamie Rappaport Clark, President and CEO, Defenders of Wildlife
“These public lands policies weren’t pulled out of a hat – they were designed to protect our public lands in a responsible way and reflect years of work and public engagement. Casually dispensing with these measures behind closed doors with no public scrutiny or input would send a very grim message about this Administration’s approach to policy-making, and we will stand firmly inside and outside of the courtroom against any effort to repeal these policies."
- Trip Van Noppen, President, Earthjustice
“Secretary Zinke has an opportunity to prevent the needless waste of America’s energy resource and loss of tax revenue by upholding BLM’s popular methane waste reduction rule and pollution reduction standards. It is important he lead the department to deliver on the tradition of managing our public resources wisely for current and future generations. The American public is watching how both Secretary Zinke and Congress handle this issue and expect that they continue Teddy Roosevelt’s legacy of conservation of our public lands and resources.”
– Fred Krupp, President, Environmental Defense Fund
“Fossil fuel companies want to profit by desecrating our natural heritage with corrosive mines and drilling rigs. By wiping out rules that were carefully crafted after years of public input and replacing them with backroom deals, Zinke is clearly betraying the American people, who want an energy future that protects our land and keeps fossil fuels in the ground.”
– Erich Pica, President, Friends of the Earth
"GreenLatinos is deeply concerned by the recent actions of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, which pave the way for an intentional weakening of bedrock environmental regulations, public input processes, and key land management practices that have kept our public lands pristine for future generations to enjoy. Opening up our public lands for degradation from oil and gas operations will not only obliterate years of public input, research, and planning, but also takes us backwards from the progress we've made toward a clean energy future. This action places Secretary Zinke's commitment to the agency's charge of managing our natural resources and cultural heritage in question."
– Mark Magaña, President and CEO, GreenLatinos
“Our public lands belong to everyone – our communities, our children, and all who call this nation home – not Big Oil and Dirty Coal. It is deeply disturbing that the public is being blocked out of shaping of land management policy which could cause irreparable harm to our special places. We the people should be subjecting these policy changes to careful scrutiny. Instead, Secretary Zinke appears intent on deciding behind closed doors how much of America’s natural heritage and treasures the Trump administration will hand over to corporate polluters.”
– Gene Karpinski, President, League of Conservation Voters
“Making these decisions behind closed doors and without America’s public landowners isn’t what Teddy Roosevelt would’ve done. There’s still time for the Secretary to course-correct.”
– David Yarnold, President and CEO, the National Audubon Society
“Secretary Zinke’s Order could upend, behind closed doors, critical national park protections that were created in a very thoughtful, open and transparent process. To discount years of analysis, as well as expert and community input, would be a mistake. Unraveling these protections could needlessly threaten park water and wildlife, mar pristine landscapes and forever change how people experience the very places that speak to who we are as Americans.”
– Theresa Pierno, President and CEO, National Parks Conservation Association
“Our public lands are held in trust for the benefit of all Americans. Deciding how we use them requires public engagement. We should be phasing out fossil fuel production in these areas and pursuing clean energy, not digging up more coal, gas and oil. It’s time to put the brakes on dirty energy development. We need to cut carbon pollution to protect future generations from the growing dangers of climate change."
–Rhea Suh, President, Natural Resources Defense Council
"It would be a mistake for this administration to make critical decisions regarding public lands policy in a rushed fashion with little or no public input on climate change impacts. Most Americans do not want the government to ignore climate change when formulating policy — particularly since the health impacts of climate change are becoming widely apparent. It’s likely that rescinding previous protections regarding oil and gas development on our public lands wouldn't survive public scrutiny, and, regretfully, we conclude that avoiding such scrutiny is the likely purpose of this order.”
–Jeff Carter, Executive Director, Physicians for Social Responsibility
“America’s public lands are the embodiment of our democracy. Public input on how our lands should be used and managed must be sought and respected if we are to preserve the uniquely American idea of public lands for all.”
– Michael Brune, Executive Director, Sierra Club