Secretary Ryan Zinke
As reported in the Denver Post, Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will be speaking at the Annual Meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) this week, one of the organizations leading the charge in advocating for the sell-off of public lands.
Secretary Zinke, who claims to be a Teddy Roosevelt conservationist, rarely misses an opportunity to remind people that he has long supported keeping public lands public. ALEC has repeatedly pushed for public lands to be given to state and private interests.
ALEC distributes “model” or cookie-cutter legislation to its members in state legislatures in hopes that they will enact anti-public lands bills. States have already collectively sold off 31 million acres of land to private interests. Moreover, many of the lawmakers who are pushing ALEC’s agenda for the takeover of America’s public lands are also pushing Secretary Zinke to rescind or significantly shrink national monuments.
The Wilderness Society issued the following statement regarding Secretary Zinke’s choice to attend the ALEC Annual Meeting:
“By aligning himself with the most anti-public lands organization in America, Secretary Zinke is sending a clear message about his intentions with our nation’s forests, monuments, refuges and other public lands,” says Brad Brooks, director of the public lands campaign for The Wilderness Society.
“Few organizations have done more to block access to hunting, fishing, camping, biking on public lands than ALEC. Zinke’s decision to speak at their event is hypocritical, and calls into question his commitment to America’s natural and cultural heritage.”
ALEC relies heavily on financing by the Koch brothers and revenue from the extractive industries. Recent investigations have found that millions from the Koch family have funded the political attacks on the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and have poured into ALEC lobbyists accounts to pressure state legislatures to seize and privatize public lands by selling them off.