The Department of Interior today came a step closer to allowing drilling in areas directly adjacent to Teddy Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota with an announcement on the consideration of a new oil and gas lease sale. This comes just as Secretary Ryan Zinke was touting a mining ban near Yellowstone National Park as evidence of his supposed commitment to protecting some public lands.
Secretary Zinke has come under heavy pressure to drop his review of existing national monuments, which he has signaled will result in fewer protections for public lands.
“If Secretary Zinke wants to finally be taken seriously as a Teddy Roosevelt conservationist then he’ll draw the line at drilling right next to Teddy Roosevelt National park,” said Chris Saeger, Executive Director of the Western Values Project. “True leadership on public lands isn’t about lunging for a headline when you’re under fire for threatening access to public lands. It’s about consistently protecting the West’s outdoor legacy and economy from threats wherever they occur.”
As a member of Congress, Secretary Zinke refused to oppose drilling on the border of Glacier National Park, saying that new technology might make the area ripe for development in the future. More than 350 former National Parks Service employees today released a letter calling on Secretary Zinke to stop oil and gas leasing near National Parks.
The Los Angeles Times today also reported that a mining company met with staff at the Department of the Interior to request they shrink a national monument in California, apparently to allow for the expansion of their operations into protected areas.