Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke finally made his ‘energy burdens’ report available to the public.
The report, required by President Trump’s “American Energy Independence” executive order from March, was due to the White House in September and had not been made public until now. The report recommends elimination of key protections for western public lands and waters, sweetens an already favorable deal for industry at the expense of American taxpayers, and gives the public little, if any, say in where and how development takes place.
Jayson O’Neill, deputy director of the Western Values Project, issued the following statement:
“This is just another example of Secretary Zinke working for special interests instead of the public. He has worked to fast-track oil and gas leases, recommended the largest reduction of protected wildlife habitat in U.S. history, and is pushing unchecked resource development across the west, including on the border of some national parks and in critical sage-grouse habitat – all for the oil and gas industry. He has flat-out ignored the multi-use directive for our public lands, and continues to undermine common-sense protections for those lands, ignoring local voices and risking our outdoor economy and heritage.”
Analysis by the Western Values Project in the Rigged series found that industry is already given preferential treatment to develop on public lands. Even the oil and gas industry is concerned by the unchecked regulatory rollback, asking the administration to ‘pump the brakes,’ fearing one BP type catastrophe could be disastrous.
Oil and gas development is already the dominant use of America’s public lands, with leasing already allowed on 90 percent of public lands in the west.
Oil and gas lease sales have been proposed on or near the border of Theodore National Park, Dinosaur National Monument, Fort Laramie National Historic Site, Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site, Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, Bears Ears National Monument, Hovenweep National Monument, Canyons of the Ancient National Monument, Great Basin National Park, and Basin and Range National Monument.
The outdoor recreation industry is one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the country, generating $887 billion in consumer spending each year and supporting 7.6 million jobs. So far, not one representative from the outdoor recreation industry has been appointed to a position at Interior.
In scrapping the collaborative sage-grouse plans adopted in 2015 with bipartisan support, Secretary Zinke took nearly every recommendation requested by the oil and gas industry and ignored input from Western Governors. Sagebrush country supports over one billion dollars in recreation-related economic activity.
The biggest burden oil and gas development face on public lands are prices, not common-sense regulations that protect hunting, fishing, habitat, wildlife, water, other users and taxpayers.