(Message from Jim Hines, Team member Sierra Club Protect Wild Utah Team, Co-Team Leader Protect California/Nevada National Monuments Team, Chapter Chair of the Sierra Club Los Padres Chapter which serves Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.)
The public comment phase for the possible reduction in size or complete elimination of America’s national monuments has officially ended.
A big THANK YOU to each of you for getting so many supportive and passionate comments for protection of America’s national monuments in before the July 10th deadline. Your individual comments regarding specific national monuments are especially encouraging.
U.S. Dept of the Interior senior staff in DC told us this morning that over 2.5 million comments were received, the majority from the official comment webpage but a large number were in the form of postcards and letters sent by mail to the U.S. Dept of the Interior. You inundated them supporting America’s national monuments. In fact they are not sure what to do with so many comments. Staff says that a preliminary tally shows that by a 10 to 1 margin people who commented supported leaving America’s national monuments fully intact and protected. The national monument which received the most individual comments was Bears Ears NM in Utah.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is currently scheduled to make his recommendations to the President on August 24th regarding size reduction or elimination of the national monuments. When I asked if that date would be moved forward the answer was ” that is completely possible, it is totally up to the Secretary (Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke)”.
We also know that number one on Secretary Zinke list for elimination is Bears Ears NM in Utah. He has stated this publicly many times. Next on the list for elimination is Grand Staircase-Escalante NM also in Utah and third is Grand Canyon-Parashant NM on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. These are the big national monuments with vast amounts of coal, oil and gas, uranium and copper to be mined. Part of the Administration’s energy plan Secretary Zinke told me in a meeting last month.
My personal take on all this. If the Secretary follows the expressed will of the American people our national monuments are safe. But the Secretary also listens to and follows the advise of a very small but vocal group of anti public lands advocates. And the Secretary is a devoted and obedient servant of the President of the United States. In several face to face meetings I have had with the Secretary he has made very clear that anti public lands advocates are the “victims” when vast parcels of public land are protected. Zinke says he firmly stands strong behind President Trump’s energy plan to “utilize every inch of national public land for the economic benefit of America”.
Whatever the outcome of Zinke’s decision the Sierra Club is prepared to defend all of America’s national monuments all the way to court if need be.
Stay tuned for more updates as the Trump Adminstration prepares to take action such as a proposal to provide NO funding for America’s national monuments in the 2018 federal budget (that was the reason I was on Capital Hill in DC last month).
An attack by the Trump Administration on America’s national monuments is an attack on America itself.
Thank you all for speaking out in defense of America’s national monuments.
However, no rest for the wicked, so no rest for us either.
This is their next target…
Yep, they want to start drilling in marine sanctuaries, including our own Channel Islands Marine Sanctuary.
Our new deadline: July 26th, 11:59 PM ET
Comment directly here: https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=NOAA-NOS-2017-0066
Read about this issue here: http://saveourmarinesanctuaries.org
There is a sample letter included, which is great, detailed and really long. However, that’s not the only way to do this. Write from your heart about what these sanctuaries mean to you, your family, your business, our environment, our state. They can be short. Look at the comment site itself for more inspiration. Some comments already posted are only one sentence. Just write as many messages as you can.