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Secrecy surrounds Interior Department's sham review of public lands

Secrecy surrounds Interior Department's sham review of public lands

The Center for Biological Diversity filed a Freedom of Information Act request today for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's report to President Trump on the fate of 27 national monuments.

Zinke told The Associated Press there would be changes to a "handful" of national monuments.

Legal experts, however, point out that the president has no actual authority to rescind or downsize any national monuments.

Today's news was a blow to environmental groups that have long expressed fears that the lands could be sold to private development.

How much are you giving away to the coal, oil, and gas industries, @SecretaryZinke?

Earlier this month, 134 businesses in the four counties surrounding the Carrizo Plain sent a letter to Zinke urging him to keep protections for the monument in place.

"Secretary Zinke's so-called review of parks and monuments has been a complete sham, with arbitrary criteria for "pardoning" some national monuments while attacking others", League of Conservation Voters' President Gene Karpinski said in a statement. While Zinke declined to comment on future fossil fuel speculation for the 27 monuments under review, such plans had been floated for Bears Ears in the recent past.

The White House said only that it received Zinke's recommendations and is reviewing them.




Two Utah monuments were under review by Zinke, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante.

New England commercial fishing groups say they're hopeful they'll get back rights to fish in the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, an area off the coast of New England designated past year for protection by President Obama.

Zinke suggested that the same presidential proclamation process used to create the monuments could be used to enact changes. "The public response to the Trump administration's review of almost 30 public land and marine monuments broke records, and the sentiment that these lands and marine regions should remain protected was almost unanimous", Sweeters continued. "This narrative is false and has no basis in fact".

Through the years, United States presidents of both parties have used the Antiquities Act of 1906 to set aside swaths of public land to protect important historical, cultural, and ecological sites without approval from Congress.

"The eco-tourists basically say, 'Throw out all the rubes and the locals and get rid of that mentality of grazing and utilizing these public lands for any kind of renewable resource such as timber harvesting and even some mineral production, '" said Noel.

More than anything, he pushed back against conservationists' claims that the Trump administration was planning to sell-off or otherwise privatize federal lands.

According to The New York Times, parts of Bears Ears and at least three other national monuments would lose their strict protection and could be reopened for new mining or drilling under proposals submitted to President Donald Trump by Zinke on Thursday, according to congressional aides and others who have been briefed on the report. My family calls Tucson home because of the stunning public lands surrounding this city. "The land was public before and it will be public after". While Congress can alter national monuments easily through legislation, presidents have reduced their boundaries only on rare occasions. That monument has also been a controversial flashpoint between logging interests, locals and environmentalists.

The Trump administration will now have to decide how to act on the Interior Department's recommendations. No other president had ever moved to eliminate the designation, which provides lands with federal protection based on grandeur, history, and vulnerability.

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