A new public video released to Western Values Project and reported on by the Huffington Post revealed that Interior hosted an event that featured extreme anti-public lands zealots who spoke out in fervent favor of transferring, selling off and ultimately privatizing America’s public lands.
“It is clear that selling off and privatizing America’s public lands has been part of the Trump administration’s agenda since day one. Now, with the completion of historic rollbacks to public land protections, all at the behest of their corporate pals, appeasing anti-public land zealots is next up on the list,” said Jayson O’Neill, Deputy Director of Western Values Project. “This is another indicator that if President Trump and Secretary Bernhardt are given enough time, the wholesale transfer and privatization of America’s public lands will happen in the blink of an eye. Once our public lands are gone, they’re gone for good.”
The event in question was the American Agri-Women Symposium, hosted in June 2019, and featured anti-public lands extremists like Myron Ebell And Harriet Hageman. Ebell is the Director of Enterprise Institute, a think tank funded by the fossil fuel industry. Hageman is a long-time and strong-armed voice against federal public lands.
Watch the American Agri-Women Video Here
At the event, Ebell called for an ominous “ultimate solution”: the privatization of all public lands, praising The American Lands Council for its continued land transfer efforts. Ebell also attacked the widely-popular Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), despite efforts to ensure it is passed fully and permanently. For her part, Hageman implied that the LWCF was “absolute insanity,” and called for a fundamental shift to the “state-federal relationship,” proposing that states manage federal public lands or they be transferred to states – which history has shown that it inevitably leads to the sale and privatization of those lands.
Strikingly, Ebell also confirmed that he met with Interior Secretary Bernhardt through “chance encounters” as he wandered Interior’s halls, revealing a new way that Sec. Bernhardt might be keeping his schedule a secret. Sec. Bernhart is notoriously secretive about his official calendars – he often has staff leave meetings off his calendar altogether.
The Trump administration’s Interior Department has already shown a worrying trend towards the sale and/or transfer of public lands and has filled the department with anti-public land zealots like William Pendley and Karen Budd-Falen.