|UPDATE 9/2 - Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke just released his plan to downsize Grand Staircase-Escalante and open the monument for mining and drilling.|
The Washington Post reports Interior Secretary Zinke's new "Resource Management Plan" opens vast swaths of the iconic Grand Staircase-Escalante monument to coal and uranium mining, fracking and other dirty energy development. It lays bare Zinke's true priorities, calling for an approach that's "the least restrictive to energy and mineral development."
Grand Staircase-Escalante, whose unparalleled store of Late Cretaceous fossils and breathtaking red rock formations attract scientists and tourists from around the globe, is a sacred place that Zinke should feel bound to protect, not destroy.
The Trump Administration is moving forward to letting timber companies clearcut thousands of acres of Alaska's 17-million-acre Tongass National Forest, reducing 800-year-old trees to stumps.
Trump officials just signed an agreement that could open the Tongass' pristine old-growth forests to extraction, with Senator Lisa Murkowski and the Alaska delegation endorsing.
DRILL BABY DRILL 2 MILLION ACRES (12/2017)
It's now clear that the Department of the Interior and the Trump administration have a common goal -- auctioning off our public lands and waters to those who put profits before our historical, cultural, and natural heritage.
Less than 24 hours after largest rollback of federal land protections in American history, the Trump administration just called for cuts to two more national monuments.
The current list:
Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, Oregon
Gold Butte National Monument, Nevada
Bears Ears National Monument, Utah
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah
The Trump administration is changing management for six more, preparatory to leasing the lands for extraction:
Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, Maine
Northeast Canyons and Seamounts, Atlantic Ocean
Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, New Mexico
Pacific Remote Islands National Monument, Pacific Ocean
Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, New Mexico
Rose Atoll National Monument, Pacific Ocean
Trump flew to Utah to personally make the announcement of his decision to lease the federal park lands.
The administration said it would shrink Bears Ears National Monument, a sprawling region of red rock canyons, by about 85 percent, and cut another area, Grand Staircase-Escalante, to about half its current size.
Trump says this is what the people in the state wants.
The move, a reversal of protections put in place by Democratic predecessors, comes as the administration pushes for fewer restrictions and more development on public lands.
The decision to reduce Bears Ears is expected to trigger a legal battle that could alter the course of American land conservation, possibly opening millions of protected public acres to oil and gas extraction, mining, logging and other commercial activities.
Bear's Ear National Momument
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
By Bob Weaver
The Oil, gas and mining industry is taking full advantage of the Trump administration, among the biggest donors to congressional pockets.
The Trump administration has plans to loot America's most pristine lands to Make America Great Again.
The Department of Interior is poised to open up millions of acres to drilling and mining, from Utah's red rock country to Alaska's frigid coastal waters.
So far, Trump supporters don't seem to mind.
Trump's Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has taken the legally unprecedented action of proposing to significantly scale back the borders of national monuments.
Zinke has taken $350k from oil and gas tycoons, who is chomping at the bit to drill and dig into our natural treasures.
Bears Ears National Monument, the sacred ancestral homeland of 5 Tribal Nations, is the #1 target in the sights of Big Oil.
More monuments are under attack. Zinke's "reviewing" 26 iconic sites, from the Giant Sequoia National Monument to the San Gabriel Mountains.
Zinke isn't just proposing trimming Bears Ears around the edges. He's proposed a drastic reduction that would eliminate much of the 1.3 million acres from protection.
This is not only an egregious land grab for Zinke's Big Energy and Logging pals, it's a slap in the face to local tribes who fought to protect the monument's thousands, yes, thousands, of sacred spiritual and cultural sites.
In addition to rolling back the Clean Waters Act, President Trump has signed an executive order calling into question the future of more than two dozen national monuments proclaimed by the last three presidents to set aside millions of acres from extraction and development.
In asking Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke for an unprecedented review of national monuments, Trump may force a question never before tested in the 111-year history of the Antiquities Act.
Whether one president can nullify a previous president's proclamation establishing a national monument.
Signing the executive order at the Department of the Interior, Trump called President Barack Obama's creation of national monuments an "egregious abuse use of power."
"And it's gotten worse and worse and worse, and now we're going to free it up," he said. "This should never have happened."
Trump's executive order takes aim at 21 years of proclamations beginning in 1996.
That time frame encompasses the "bookends" of two of the most controversial national monument designations in recent history: President Clinton's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in 1996 to President Obama's Bears Ears National Monument in 2016. Both are in Utah, and faced opposition from the congressional delegation and state officials.
Conservation groups say the order endangers monuments that should be permanently protected because of their beauty, wildlife and vulnerability for enjoyment of the American people.
Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "These public lands belong to all of us."
Trump said national monument designations "create barriers to achieving energy independence ... and otherwise curtail economic growth."
"The Antiquities Act does not give the federal government unlimited power to lock up millions of acres of land and water, and it's time we ended this abusive practice," Trump said, echoing a common complaint of western state lawmakers who want to develop the lands.