Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is continuing his pattern of blatantly pursuing special interests when it comes to Interior Department decisions.
The Montana native has not recommended a reduction in size for any of the national monuments in his home state. The revelation comes after Zinke recommended major size reductions for the beloved Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante national monuments.
Zinke did, however, recommend that Trump create a national monument in his home state. The Badger-Two Medicine area of northwestern Montana would be home to a 130,000-acre national monument if approved by the president.
Both monuments – Bears Ears and the proposed Badger-Two Medicine, are of cultural significance to Native American tribes, according to ThinkProgress.
Only one of those monuments in Zinke’s home state. And, people are noticing a pattern: from the recent Whitefish contract scandal to the destruction of public and sacred lands, Zinke only seems to care if department decisions impact Montana directly.
You might ask, why? The Interior Secretary wants a future in Montana politics. After his tenure is up, he’ll go back to his home state – and the people there won’t be so eager to vote him into office should he take aim and destroy Montana’s public lands like he’s destroying other state’s lands.
It’s all about keeping Montana happy. A Center for Western Priorities spokesperson said:
“Everything that Secretary Zinke does in Montana is 180 degrees from what he does to the rest of the country. Montana gets special treatment because he would like to be the governor there some day.”
So Ryan Zinke knows full well that much of work he’s doing in favor of Trump is dangerous and perhaps immoral. Otherwise, there would be no stake in favoring Montana for the sake of his political future.
Zinke knows it’s wrong to shrink the boundaries of at least four national monuments despite the fact that he has decided to do so. The president wants to open the land up to drilling, mining, and other extraction ventures. That’s why he did not recommend the Upper Missouri River Breaks, the only monument on a list up for review by Zinke located in Montana.
Zinke is also seeking to block gold mining claims on public lands in Montana near Yellowstone National Park. The Secretary has applauded Trump for constructing mines and pushing to lift bans elsewhere – one of those includes a ban on uranium mining in the Grand Canyon watershed.
Various Native American tribes consider Bears Ears national monument sacred land. Those tribes say shrinking the monument violates the 1906 Antiquities Act, which does not give the president authority to reduce the size of declared monuments.
Zinke is on the wrong side of history. We can all hope that Montana voters will see right through his facade.