Sally Claassen: An open letter to Secretary Ryan Zinke
In 2010 as a Montana state representative you signed a letter to President Barack Obama that concluded: “We call on you to enact comprehensive clean energy jobs and climate legislation …”
In 2017, as Secretary of the Interior you re-assigned your department’s top climate change official to an oil and gas accounting office. You have allowed edits to scientific reports to eliminate reference to human-caused climate change and have four-year strategic plans to strike all mention of climate.
You tout Theodore Roosevelt as your hero. Remember him? He signed the Antiquities Act into law in 1906. But upon taking office, you have “reviewed” hundreds of monuments and slashed the Bear Ears and Escalante National Monuments.
Your hero, Teddy said: “Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”
It is hard to believe Roosevelt would approve of your changes to the Department of Interior’s motto that now puts “powering our future” on equal footing with “protecting our great outdoors.”
In 2015, as a freshman congressman, you had the backbone to vote to reauthorize the Land & Water Conservation Fund, a lone Republican vote on the committee. In 2018, you stood by in silence when budget proposals would have decimated the fund.
In justifying a reversal of opening Florida coastal waters to oil and gas exploration after meeting with Gov. Scott, you said: “Local voices matter.” I agree. But then please explain why you are determined to gut the BLM sage grouse management plan that was years in the making with the active participation of local resource advisory councils made up of diverse interest groups of ranchers, environmentalists, county commissioners and community members.
As the west burns up this summer, as a signer of that 2010 letter and Teddy Roosevelt devotee, how can you not stand up for our lands against the administration’s proposed 2019 budget that would eliminate your department’s Joint Fire Science Program?
When you talk to the Freedom Conference, please explain what happened to cause your change of heart that allows you to slavishly follow the policies of a president whose only idea of wilderness is the back nine.
It’s time to find that Navy Seal backbone again Mr. Zinke and stand up for the public lands that belong to the American people, not the American oil and gas industry. It’s time to stand up for what we know is scientifically true. It’s time to stand up for our children’s children’s inheritance.
A lot of us will be “Standing Up for Our Land” this Friday evening at the Routt County Courthouse. We hope that you soon can find your way back out of the wilderness of political ambition and join us to stand up for our lands.
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