Timber! Will Trump Roll Back National Monuments?
That Zinke-ing feelingLance King / Getty Politics Features Donald Trimp
The Trump Administration is threatening to strip the federal protections from national monuments. According to the Times:
In April, President Trump ordered a sweeping review of 27 national monuments that were designated or expanded in recent years under the Antiquities Act. Along with Bears Ears, the review included monuments like Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks in New Mexico, Mojave Trails in California and Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine. National monuments are strictly protected from new development in much the same way the national parks are. … Mr. Zinke told the Associated Press on Thursday morning that he would propose boundary changes to a “handful” of national monuments, but that he would not recommend eliminating any of them. Mr. Zinke, who was in Billings, Mont., for a briefing on wildfires, was expected to release his recommendation later in the day.
The assault on federally-protected nature preserves is being led by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the President’s general in the fight to dismantle the work of protecting the American environment that was begun in earnest by President Theodore Roosevelt over a century ago. The mining, timber, and drilling industries, and their shareholders, would be the biggest beneficiaries of such a drastic change. No President has ever earnestly dared to roll back national monument status, but Trump may possibly do so.
According to the Times, twenty-seven sites are under review by the Administration. Trump kvetched about the a “massive federal land grab” under the Obama Administration. According to Bloomberg, Zinke claims there will be no rollback of monument laws:
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told the Associated Press he wouldn’t propose eliminating any monuments, which preserve relics, iconic rock formations and natural wonders. He said there would be boundary adjustments to some areas designated under the Antiquities Act. “No President should use the authority under the Antiquities Act to restrict public access, prevent hunting and fishing, burden private land, or eliminate traditional land uses, unless such action is needed,” Zinke said in a statement.
This recent, possibly-apocalyptic wrinkle in the fortunes of Our National Park Service follows other strange developments along the Zinke political weather front. The former Montana Congressman is not merely a friend to big spenders; he is more diverse than that. He is also the darling of the National Rifle Association:
The NRA has sought to align itself closely with Interior officials. The gun rights group forcefully advocated for Ryan Zinke, a Montana Congressman, to lead the department when he was nominated by President Trump. After he was confirmed by the Senate, the NRA called the appointment “good news for gun owners.” Chris Cox, the organization’s top lobbyist, hailed the start of Zinke’s tenure as “the end of a hostile era towards hunters and sportsmen.”
We know who Donald Trump stands for: himself, and himself alone. Zinke, who arrived to his first day in office on horseback, is a lesser-known quantity. Does Zinke stand for the parks, or against them? The White House loves the environment like it loves the law: as backdrop only.
By signing on with the Orangeman, he is preserving his political life, not the environment’s. What does the Earth matter, when Zinke will be in office for four years? Let us be considerate to these companies. After all, the mountains will be there for millions of years, but Zinke and Trump’s friends are mortal men, and only have a mortal man’s lifespan in which to drill, plunder, and loot the abundance of North America. Any old continent can raise up mountains; monuments to greed are solely the work of man.