Releases

Western Values Project sues Justice Department to obtain correspondence with conservative groups

Suit seeks correspondence on legal justification for national monument rescission Today, the Western Values Project filed suit after the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) failed to fulfill Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The FOIAs, sent on May 31, 2017, request documents related to the national monument review being conducted by the […]

New poll, ad campaign tells Secretary Zinke to protect national monuments

New Montana poll ahead of ad campaign on Zinke’s national monuments review A new poll showing support slipping for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s monuments review in his home state of Montana was released. The release of the poll comes in advance of a six-figure television and digital ad campaign in Montana reminding residents what is […]

ICYMI: Zinke settles lawsuit over unpaid rent

In case you missed it, the Huffington Post is reporting that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has settled a lawsuit with his former landlord, Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral, over unpaid rent. The Huffington Post reported: The church claimed the Zinkes owed more than $66,000 in unpaid rent and late fees. The Zinkes responded with a countersuit in mid-November 2016, […]

ICYMI: Conservative opposition to national monument repeal effort grows

Conservatives are speaking out against efforts by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and President Donald Trump to reduce or eliminate national monuments. Conservative columnists and legal scholars are joining the chorus of experts who have argued that the President does not have the authority to unilaterally change or repeal a national monument. “Even conservatives are turning against this […]

Shrinking Interior: Zinke gives up additional $75 million in revenue despite devastating budget cuts

The Department of the Interior announced the repeal of a rule that will cost taxpayers nearly $75 million. The repeal of the rule will reduce royalties paid for oil, gas and coal developed on federal public lands. Estimates by the Office of Natural Resources Revenue show that nearly $75 million in royalties per year will be […]

Secretary Zinke continues to give handouts to industry, ignores Western voices with sage-grouse order

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke released his review of the greater sage-grouse conservation plan. The original conservation plan was implemented two years ago after extensive work and collaboration by a bipartisan group of Western stakeholders, including federal, state and local governments, as well as ranchers, farmers, sports groups, conservationists and industry representatives. This order is […]

Senate advances more Interior appointees with questionable pasts

Top officials would add to team at Interior loaded with former lobbyists and Trump campaign operatives The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted to advance several nominees to serve in the departments of Energy and the Interior. Those nominees include Susan Combs, a fellow from a Koch-funded think tank, Brenda Burman who has worked […]

New poll: Overwhelming majority of Americans support protections for national monuments; oppose review

A new national poll released shows that Americans are overwhelmingly supportive of protections for national monuments, while a strong majority are opposed to President Trump’s executive order requiring Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to review national monuments created or expanded since 1996 to either be shrunk or revoked. The poll, conducted by Global Strategy […]

New website tracks industry influence at Department of Interior, shows pattern of stacking the deck in favor of special interests

The Western Values Project (WVP) is launching the “Department of Influence,” an interactive website featuring in-depth research on political appointments at the Department of the Interior. The website documents the revolving door between special interest lobbyists and appointees at the department. The analysis shows that lobbyists, political cronies and industry insiders are taking over at Interior while […]

Western Values Project requests records on Secretary Zinke’s threats to Alaska, prepares for legal action

The Western Values Project (WVP) has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for all records related to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s threats against Alaska Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan. If the Interior Department does not fulfill the request within 20 business days as legally required, WVP is prepared to take legal action. Read […]

ICYMI: Interior Secretary Zinke faces questions after threatening “retribution” against Alaska Senators

In case you missed it, the Alaska Dispatch News is reporting this morning that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke threatened “retribution” against Alaska Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan (both Republicans) over Murkowski’s votes on health care legislation. From the Dispatch: Early Wednesday, Trump took to Twitter to express displeasure with Murkowski’s vote. By that afternoon, each of Alaska’s two Republican […]

ICYMI: Secretary Zinke refuses to release energy report, obscuring evidence of giveaways to special interests

In case you missed it, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke refused to release a report reviewing agency actions that potentially “burden” energy development. The report was required as part of an Executive Order on American “Energy Independence” issued by President Trump earlier this year. An Interior Department spokeswoman is claiming that the report is an internal document that […]

ICYMI: Questions remain for embattled Interior nominee Bernhardt on lobbying record

Senate should delay vote until nominee answers questions Questions remain after new evidence surfaced late last week showing nominee for the position of Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior David Bernhardt may have continued to lobby Congress and the White House after canceling his registration as a lobbyist. Despite these unanswered questions, Senate […]

Breaking: New documents show nominee for top Interior job may have lied to Congress, violated Lobbying Disclosure Act

Western Values Project calls on Senate to delay confirmation vote based on new evidence In a letter sent to Senators Murkowski and Cantwell, the Western Values Project called on the Senate to delay a confirmation vote for David Bernhardt, nominee for the position of Deputy Secretary of the Department of Interior. The letter comes after the Campaign […]

Rigged: Taxpayers pay for Big Oil companies’ profits from public lands

National parks, national forests, wildlife refuges, and recreation areas, as well as the minerals beneath them, belong to all Americans. The federal government holds these lands and resources in trust and is supposed to manage them for our benefit and the benefit of future generations. One need look no further than the paychecks of top […]

ICYMI: Utah Republican legislators caught bashing Trump/Zinke efforts

Emails reveal Utah legislative leaders bashing Secretary Zinke, opposing executive action, and letting special interests write legislation Email correspondence (available here and here) obtained by the Western Values Project (WVP) reveals that behind the scenes Utah legislative leaders have been bashing Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, opposing the use of executive orders and letting special interests write […]

Rigged: Deadbeat tenants

Industry loves to complain about regulatory burdens and “red tape” on federal public lands. The reality, however, is that these same companies are systematically exploiting loopholes, subsidies and other special advantages that they enjoy. The system is actually rigged in such a way that allows companies to lease millions of acres of public lands for […]

Two more ex-lobbyists nominated for Interior posts

Both Douglas Domenech and Brenda Burman are part of a pattern of ex-Bush officials and ex-lobbyists joining the administration Adding to the growing list of questionable appointments, the Trump administration has nominated two more former Bush officials and ex-lobbyists to critical posts at the Department of the Interior (DOI). “It appears the Trump administration and […]

Secretary of the Interior Zinke tucks tail at Western Governors’ Association meeting

In what appears to be a meet and run, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke failed to address critical questions from Western governors in public at their annual meeting in Whitefish, Montana. The Secretary left immediately after delivering brief remarks. Statement from Chris Saeger, Executive Director of Western Values Project: “Secretary Zinke seems to think […]

Trump’s public asset sell off and privatization scheme

As the Trump administration continues to try to justify an immoral, unbalanced budget with a $2 trillion accounting error, more cabinet members are pitching real estate deals to sell off or privatize public assets. Earlier this month, when she testified before the House Appropriations Committee, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao restated her position supporting selling off […]

Print, TV ad campaign launches in CO, MT, NV, and WY pushing pack against Secretary Zinke’s review of BLM’s Sage-Grouse Plans

Campaign timed to coincide with the Western Governors’ Association meeting in Montana We launched a six-figure TV, digital, and print campaign in Colorado, Montana, Nevada, and Wyoming in advance of the Western Governors’ Association (WGA) annual meeting in Montana. The ads push back against Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s recent Secretarial Order to review […]

TRUMP FACT CHECK: Federal public lands already belong to federal taxpayers

Manhattan real estate developer confused over ownership of nation’s public lands President Donald Trump told a crowd of supporters in Iowa that he would “‘end the last administration’s land grab’” – an apparent reference to his administration’s push to end protections for threatened landscapes, such as the Bears Ears area of Utah. “The Western Values […]

VIDEO: Acting Interior #2 admits regulatory review was over before it started

Top official concedes 2/3rds of rules were slated to be axed months before review was announced Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced a sweeping review of the department’s rules that could have serious impacts on public lands users and local economies throughout the West. But Acting Deputy Secretary James Cason admitted to an industry […]

ICYMI: Secretary Zinke aims to kill 4,000 jobs at Interior

Secretary of the Interior goes on the record to Congress to demand massive cuts In written testimony submitted to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke called for eliminating 4,000 department employees. Chris Saeger, Executive Director of the Western Values Project, had this to say about the cuts: Secretary […]

ICYMI: Potential pick for BLM chief a Bundy family sympathizer

Karen Budd-Falen on the Bundy family’s violent takeover of public lands: “you’re going to see more of that because we’re not left with any choice.” Another former Trump transition team member with extreme political views has been floated for a high-level position at the Department of Interior. E&E News reported that Karen Budd-Falen, a Wyoming […]

Secretary Zinke’s imagined “review” of Bears Ears

Recommendation on fate of area to come after over one hundred thousand public comments supporting national monuments submitted As we celebrate the 111th anniversary of former President Teddy Roosevelt’s hallmark piece of legislation, the Antiquities Act, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and President Donald Trump are orchestrating an unprecedented attack on the iconic conservationist’s […]

In Congressional hearing, Zinke defends budget that would slash funding for public lands

Draconian budget cuts proposed by Zinke and Trump come along with proposals to reduce or eliminate public lands, sell off parks Today, in front of the House Appropriations Committee, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke advocated for draconian budget cuts that would undermine our national parks, public lands, and local access funds. The budget proposal […]

Senate committee taps oil and gas lobbyist for number two spot at Interior

On a mostly party-line vote of 14-9, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee advanced the nomination of oil and gas lobbyist David Bernhardt to be the Deputy Secretary of the Interior. This comes following reports that Bernhardt is refusing to comply with ethics disclosures, despite having one of the longest lists of conflicts of […]

ICYMI: Largest paper in Montana calls out Sec. Zinke on Interior cuts

After the Trump administration announced devastating budget cuts to America’s National Park Service and the agencies tasked with managing our public lands, the largest paper in Montana, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s home state, chastised him for failing to keep his promises. The Billings Gazette editorial board said of the proposed cuts: “We have to go […]

WVP files lawsuit after DOI fails to release public records on Bears Ears 

Government accountability watchdog Western Values Project (WVP) today filed suit in federal court to force the release of documents from the Obama administration’s deliberations over the Bears Ears National Monument, among others. At President Trump’s direction, the Department of the Interior is considering reversing Bears Ears and other monument declarations, based in part on the […]

Zinke fails to “fight” for a better budget, praises cuts as eliminating “wasteful spending

Today, the Trump administration released a 2018 budget request that would gut funding for agencies that manage and protect our nation’s public lands. The proposal would slash the Interior Department’s budget by nearly 11 percent, or 1.5 billion. When the initial budget proposal was released in March, Secretary Zinke vowed to fight drastic cuts to his […]

ICYMI: FOIAs show Zinke cozying up to special interests

The Washington Post is reporting that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s “personal schedule shows industry chiefs have frequent access” to the secretary. More from the story: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke spent much of his first two months in office meeting with energy and other industry groups, according to personal schedules released this week under the Freedom […]

Lobbyist Bernhardt hides history of pandering to special interests

Bush administration official-turned lobbyist obscures past mishandling of ethical missteps and cozying up to special interests in government role Nominee for Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt’s rocky path back through the revolving door continued as he bristled under tough questions about his past as a lobbyist and top official during some of the […]

Will Murkowski and Senate Committee Members hold lobbyist Bernhardt accountable during confirmation hearing?

Western Values Project Launches Ad Campaign Calling On Murkowski To Do Her Job, Ask The Tough Questions During Hearing Today, Western Values Project is running a full-page ad in Politico calling on Senator Murkowski, Chair of the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources, to do her job and ask critically important questions at today’s […]

Is Interior’s monuments review a sham or is Secretary Zinke making promises he can’t keep?

Utah Senator Mike Lee claims Bears Ears will be eliminated or “significantly” reduced In shockingly matter-of-fact comments, Utah Senator Mike Lee said during a tele-town hall that Bears Ears monument will be eliminated or “significantly” reduced in size. These surprising comments come as the Department of the Interior (DOI) is still gathering public comments and […]

WVP statement on Senate’s courage on BLM rule sends a message to special interests

Chris Saeger, Executive Director of the Western Values Project, released the following statement in response to the Senate’s refusal to advance a plan to reject the Bureau of Land Management’s rule to combat wasted natural gas and tax dollars on public lands: “Every Senator who voted against this plan deserves our thanks for standing up […]

Western Values Project Files FOIA for Portman Communications Ahead of Vote on Methane Rule

Includes Former Registered Lobbyist for Industry Turned Portman Staffer Portman FOIA (Methane Rule) Western Values Project filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for all communications between the Department of Interior and Senator Portman’s Office, including communications with a former registered lobbyist for American’s Natural Gas Alliance turned Portman staffer. The request comes after […]

Zinke “Political Stunt” Tour to Advance Anti-Public Lands Agenda Off to Rough Start

As Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke visits Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments this week, Western Values Project Executive Director Chris Saeger released the following statement: “Secretary Zinke’s photo op on horseback is yet another political stunt in his campaign to advance an anti-public lands agenda. But even the best photo op can’t hide the […]

ICYMI: Congressional Budget Compromise: One Small Step Forward, One Big Step Back for Conservation Efforts

Congress provides for Greater Sage-grouse Conservation; Reduces Funding for Popular Bipartisan Land and Water Conservation Fund The recent budget compromise to fund the government for the next five months increases funding for the greater sage-grouse conservation activities by $8.9 million. This increase makes clear that Congress has acknowledged the importance of this initiative, calling on […]

Statement on Scandal Plagued DOI Deputy Secretary Nomination Bernhardt

Chris Saeger, Executive Director of the Western Values Project released the following statement in response to news that David Bernhardt has been nominated as Deputy Secretary of the Interior: “There are a million reasons why David Bernhardt shouldn’t get this job, and even more questions about his previous tenure at Interior, and in the private […]

Zinke/Trump Attack on Public Lands Silences Rural America

During the White House press briefing on President Trump’s executive order to review national monuments, Secretary Zinke was called out over the positive economic impacts of public lands and national monuments in this administration’s latest attack on rural America. “Zinke’s and Trump’s reckless order to review National Monuments will lead to shrinking and even possibly […]

Zinke adds proponent of pipelines in parks to Teddy Roosevelt all-stars

Secretary of the Interior and self-proclaimed “Teddy Roosevelt conservationist” Ryan Zinke has just named another bona fide member of the Washington DC special interests swamp to a top position at the Department of the Interior — the latest in a long line of Washington insiders to join the Trump administration.   Kate MacGregor, a former lobbyist, […]

Top Oregon legal officials see no case to sue for national lands

According to information obtained through public records requests of members of the Conference of Western Attorney’s General (CWAG), the office of the Oregon Attorney General does not believe that the state of Oregon has standing to sue for the transfer of federal public lands to the state. The results of the request can be downloaded […]

Western Values Project Calls on Senate to Press Perdue on his Troubling Record and Conflicts of Interest

Today, Western Values Project called on the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture to press Sonny Perdue on his record during his hearing to be Secretary of Agriculture. The Western Values Project — an organization that works to further the national conversation around public land use and conservation. – sent a letter to the U.S. Senate […]

WVP: Zinke must reject energy donors to match Roosevelt legacy

Whitefish, Mont. – Following the confirmation of Ryan Zinke as Interior Secretary, Executive Director of the Western Values Project released the following statement: “Secretary Zinke will tell anyone who is willing to listen, besides maybe his donors in the oil industry, that he’s just like conservation hero Teddy Roosevelt. Here’s what we have to say […]

(Still) Open for business: Implementation of the BLM’s Sage Grouse Plans Continues to Allow for Multiple-Use Public Lands Management

A new report released today by the Western Values Project titled “Open For Business,” found, despite the false claims made by oil industry lobbyists and their allies in Congress that the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) fifteen sage-grouse land management plans would stifle development on public lands, the public lands have – as promised – stayed […]

ConocoPhillips wants a pat on the back, while still wasting millions of taxpayer dollars

Recently, ConocoPhillips tooted its own horn by touting the success of its natural gas waste capture programs. While we applaud ConocoPhillips’ steps towards reducing natural gas waste, there’s an omission that is the elephant in the room— ConocoPhillips is still the largest natural gas emitter in the US. Each year, ConocoPhillips emits the equivalent of […]

The Public Lands Initiative is too much, too late and unlikely to pass

Utah Representative Rob Bishop’s Public Lands Initiative (PLI) is “too much, too late” and is an unrealistic attempt to protect the endangered artifacts and cultural resources of the Bears Ears area, according to new analysis from the Western Values Project. You can download the full report at this link. The first hearing for Congresman Bishop’s bill […]

New government report on natural gas waste outlines why the BLM methane rule is desperately needed— and quickly

A new report out by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) showcases just how badly the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) needs to revamp the way it monitors and permits methane waste on public lands. Each year, upwards of $330 million worth of methane, the main component of natural gas, is wasted on our public lands […]

Wyoming lawmakers should support BLM’s methane waste rule and seize the millions of dollars that are on the table

When your state is discussing which agencies will get budget cuts, is currently toying with making massive cuts to the athletics program of your only NCAA-Division I school in the state, has already cut $36 million from the public school system, and attempted (and was vehemently defeated) to levy a state tax on groceries, one […]

Majority of Wyoming and Montana Residents Support Changes to the Federal Coal Program

57% of Wyoming residents and 65% of Montana residents support making changes to the outdated federal coal program, according to new poll results released by Western Values Project. The failing coal program has not been reviewed in 40 years. Under the current program, coal executives are exploiting loopholes to sell coal at cut-rate prices. Coal […]

As the annual Four Corners Oil & Gas conference kicks off, let’s remember our money that’s being left on the table

The 13th Annual Four corners Oil and Gas Conference kicks off this week in Farmington, New Mexico. While many presentations, including from FLIR Systems, Inc., will focus on new technologies and best practices to help bring the oil and gas industry into the twenty-first century, there will surely be other, more-entrenched interests focused on maintaining the […]

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