Wild Horse and Burro Hater Zinke continues to add lobbyists and DC insiders to Interior

Source: Western Values Project.org

Ahead of potential confirmation votes, check out profiles of Interior nominees at https://departmentofinfluence.org/

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is expected to vote on the nominations of Joseph Balash and Ryan Nelson to the Interior Department. Ahead of the vote, Western Values Project has taken a look at how the revolving door continues to spin between special interests, their lobbyists, and Secretary Ryan Zinke’s Interior Department.

Both nominees have been well documented on Western Values Project’s website for their lengthy histories of favoring big donors and special interests.

“Secretary Zinke is continuing to fill his cabinet with special interests and Washington insiders. While Interior continues to stack the deck with staff from the oil and gas industry, they seem set on ignoring the outdoor industry that our communities rely on. That explains why sportsmen, hunters and anglers are turning against the Secretary,” said Chris Saeger, Executive Director of the Western Values Project. “Balash and Nelson are merely the latest examples of Zinke’s refusal to keep his promise to preserve public lands and uphold his Montana values. With these nominations, it’s abundantly clear that Secretary Zinke does not value the outdoor heritage and public lands that communities in the West rely on.”

Joseph Balash

Joseph Balash, nominated to be assistant secretary of the Interior, land and minerals management, has a long history of favoring special interests over people in his home state of Alaska. In 2013, Balash was cited as one of the “key players on Gov. Sean Parnell’s bill to lower oil taxes.” In 2014, Balash used his time as the commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources to claim nearly 20,000 acres of the National Arctic and Wildlife Refuge to be offered for oil and gas leasing. He then approved lowered royalty rates on several leases operated by oil company Caelus Energy.

Ryan Nelson
Ryan Nelson, nominated to be solicitor of the Interior, has a background in using power to silence critics. During the George W. Bush administration, Nelson used his time as deputy attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division to argue against environmental groups and activists. Nelson has since spent his time in the private sector acting as general counsel to the health care product company Melaleuca, Inc. and its CEO Frank VanderSloot. Both Melaleuca and VanderSloot have used lawsuits and other bullying tactics to attack journalists and other critics.

http://westernvaluesproject.org/zinke-continues-to-add-lobbyists-and-dc-insiders-to-interior/

Wyoming BLM Fails to Analyze Climate Impacts of Oil and Gas, Yet Again

SOURCE:  climatewest.org

By

Last week, Guardians submitted comments on Interior Secretary Zinke’s and the Wyoming Bureau of Land Management’s proposal to hold two oil and gas lease sales in March of next year.

Instead of turning over a new leaf in 2018, the Wyoming BLM is planning to giveaway 125,000+ acres of public land for fracking in the Wind River/Bighorn Basin District (northwestern Wyoming) and 48,000+ acres in the High Plains District (eastern Wyoming).  Not surprisingly, based on the draft environmental analysis, Wyoming fails again to fully analyze the climate change impacts from the lease sales.

The Wyoming BLM continues to refuse to analyze the cumulative climate impacts even when the lease sales are occurring at the same time and in the same state (not to mention the 1 million plus acres leased in the West 2017).  And, Wyoming continually touts the benefits of oil and gas while failing to even attempt to look at the social costs of releasing more carbon into our atmosphere (a requirement that two courts recently re-affirmed).

Read the rest of this article HERE.

 

Opinion: Scheme to Kill Nevada’s Wild Horses Built on Greed

By Charlotte Roe as published on The Reno Gazette-Journal

Zinke claims “humane euthanasia” (e.g. killing) is the only solution to overpopulating “starving” wild equines that allegedly harm the range and wildlife. No evidence substantiates his spin.

Longtime Horse Slaughter Proponent, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, wants America’s Wild Horses and Burros Killed/Murdered.

In Southeast Nevada’s high desert Silver King Herd Management Area, wild horses coexist with elk, deer, antelope and sage grouse. They are vastly outnumbered by cattle and sheep.  Although federally protected, they are in peril. The Bureau of Land Management intends to round up nearly 1,000 to achieve its absurdly low population target of 60 adults and foals, leaving one horse per 10,000 acres. In the huge Antelope Valley and Triple A Complex, the BLM plans to remove over 7,000 mustangs. The Trump Administration wants captured horses sent to slaughter.

In April 2017, Congress directed the BLM to economize by presenting a “a plan to achieve long-term sustainable population on the range in a humane manner.”  Instead, the BLM’s inhumane, unsustainable FY18 budget request, pushed by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, proposes to eradicate up to 92,000 wild horses and burros, by selling those in holding to slaughterhouses and destroying those arbitrarily deemed “excess” on the range.

 This despicable plan was conceived through propaganda, deception and what conservative columnist David Horowitz terms a takeover by the cattle lobby. Zinke claims “humane euthanasia” (e.g. killing) is the only solution to overpopulating “starving” wild equines that allegedly harm the range and wildlife. No evidence substantiates his spin. BLM estimates there are 73,000 wild equines in 32.6 million acres of public lands, an average of one horse per 456 acres.  Federally subsidized cows and sheep number in the millions.

The BLM’s wasteful system makes millionaires of a few helicopter contractors. It distracts attention from the devastating damage done by livestock overgrazing and by commercial exploitation of federal lands. Humane management solutions for wild horses and burros have long been available. They include safe, reversible birth control vaccines; the repatriation of captive wild equines to the 21 million acres the BLM removed from their historically designated ranges; readjusting “appropriate management levels” (AMLs); and ending the agency’s counterproductive system of roundup and removal. In its 2013 report, the National Academy of Sciences stated that roundups increase reproductive rates, and that AMLs are arbitrary, inflexible and groundless.

 Secretary Zinke urges further eroding of environmental regulations and undoing federal monuments to accelerate the development of public lands by extractive industries. Wild horses and burros are an obstacle to this greedy plan.

Wild mustangs run in harmony with herds of elk in Nevada’s Antelope Valley. Free-roaming equines graze down fire-prone vegetation and underbrush. They break ice and dig water holes, helping other wildlife to survive harsh winters. They attract visitors from around the world to struggling rural communities. The vast majority of Americans want them safe and free. Please urge your senators and representative to maintain the ban on selling wild equines to slaughter and to oppose budget language that allows killing these iconic animals.

http://www.rgj.com/story/opinion/voices/2017/08/31/scheme-kill-nevadas-wild-horses-built-greed-opinion/621805001/

Zinke looks to move 3 agencies’ headquarters to Denver

Source:  eenews.net

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke reportedly has said Denver “will probably” become the headquarters for three major agencies within the department as part of an ambitious reorganization effort slated to get underway in fiscal 2019.

The Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Reclamation could eventually move their headquarters operations from Washington to Denver, according to employee notes obtained by E&E News detailing a July meeting between Zinke and U.S. Geological Survey senior executives in Denver.

Zinke provided an overview of his reorganization plans to the senior executives during a July 21 lunch, USGS spokesman Dave Ozman confirmed. It included discussion of the secretary’s desire to shift more department resources and personnel from Washington to field offices across the country and empower front-line employees with more decisionmaking authority.

But more authority might not translate into higher salaries for employees outside the Beltway.

The notes indicated that Zinke believes Interior is too top-heavy with managers. He told senior executives during the Denver meeting that shrinking the workforce would be achieved without layoffs, something he has said publicly before.

“Zinke believes the DOI organization is an upside-down pyramid — there are too many high-graded employees,” the notes said. “There needs to be more lower grades, and they need to be in the field. Example, when a GS-14 retires, we should hire a GS-6 or 9.”

Zinke has told lawmakers that he wants to reduce the department workforce by 4,000 full-time jobs through a mix of attrition, separation incentives and reassignments to meet the recommendations of the Trump administration’s fiscal 2018 budget request.

The Montanan, a former Navy SEAL, also outlined for career managers his plan to have field offices report to regional joint management areas (JMAs) based on watershed and wildlife corridors. The idea is based on the military’s joint command structure. Leadership at the JMAs “could change or rotate between bureaus in the JMAs,” the notes said.

Read the rest of this article HERE.

Zinke’s Sham National Monument Review Still Shrouded in Secrecy

The Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument

Source:  Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, August 24, 2017

Contact:  Randi Spivak, (310) 799-4894, rspivak@biologicaldiversity.org

Records Request Demands Zinke’s Report to Trump on National Monuments

Sham National Monument Review Still Shrouded in Secrecy

WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity filed a Freedom of Information Act request today for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s report to President Trump on the fate of 27 national monuments.

The Interior report, which was sent to Trump today, has not been released. According to reports, Zinke has recommended removing protections for some national monuments.

“This entire review has been a lawless, secretive sham,” said Randi Spivak, the Center’s public lands director. “Now Trump and Zinke are hiding the report so they don’t have to face public backlash for trying to sell out America’s public lands to fossil fuel development and logging. They’re asking for a court battle. And they’ll get one.”

The report concludes the Trump administration’s controversial 120-day review of 27 national monuments spanning more than 1 billion acres of public lands and oceans.

Zinke visited only eight at-risk monuments during his review, meeting almost exclusively with monument opponents, including representatives of the oil, gas and timber industries. He arbitrarily “pardoned” six national monuments, without providing any criteria for his decisions to leave current protections in place.

A vast majority of Americans support national monuments and oppose removing protections. More than 2.7 million people wrote to the Interior Department urging Zinke and Trump to preserve the 27 monuments.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

www.biologicaldiversity.org

Federal and State Horse Haters Lock Out Media and Advocates from Utah Sponsored “Slaughter-fest”

Article by Max Roth of Salt Lake Fox 13

“Propaganda, Lies and Deceit Permeate Secret Wild Horse and Burro Planning Meeting to Organize Murder and Extermination of National Icons”

Click on Image to View Video

SALT LAKE CITY — Wild horses bring out the romance and the longstanding divisions at the heart of the American West, and that dynamic was clear as the Bureau of Land Management, the State of Utah, and a number of private and non-profit groups met in a closed-door meeting in downtown Salt Lake City to discuss the animals’ fate.

The deputy chief of staff to Utah Governor Gary Herbert expressed both the romance and the sense of cold reality.

“We love them and they’re an iconic part of our landscape,” Mower said, adding, “There’s just simply not enough feed for the horses and not enough water.”

A collection of Wild Horse advocates gathered on the sidewalk outside of the Marriott Hotel, where the Wild Horse and Burro Summit was taking place.

“I serve on the BLM’s national wild horse advisory board as their humane advisor and yet I was not invited,” said Ginger Kathrens, a filmmaker and Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation.

Alongside Kathrens were representatives from the Wild Horse Campaign, the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group, and a number of Utah volunteers like Shauna Muztafago.

“I felt compelled to be here today to be a voice to those who have no voice,” said Muztafago, who took the day off from her job at a mortgage company to protest the event she couldn’t attend.

The Director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources, Michael Styler, said his goal is all about being humane to the horses.

“They’re running out of feed. They’re running out of water. How could you be so heartless as to let horses starve or die of thirst by mismanagement?” Styler asked.

The state and the Bureau of Land Management say sustainable population levels for wild horses are somewhere near 27,000 animals and the current population is closer to 73,000.

The advocates who were not invited to the meeting say those numbers are more a reflection of the government’s priority on profitable livestock over wild horses. They cite a 2013 study conducted by the National Academy of Science that found no basis for the 27,000 horse population target. They also cite their own work with horses.

“We actually manage wild horses on the range, we document them, we have stats and data on each and every wild horse,” said Simone Netherlands, Executive Director of the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group.

Netherlands said her volunteers regularly dart the horses on their range in Arizona with a chemical called PZP-22, which slows reproduction rates to maintain herd populations.

That’s likely among the solutions discussed by the Wild Horse and Burro Summit, though that’s impossible to know because the news media was also not invited into the Wild Horse Summit discussions, just to a brief press conference in a separate room.

Agenda for this week’s Wild Horse & Burro Killers’ Summit in Salt Lake City, Utah

(Be sure to also read our Hall of Shame below the Agenda.)

THE HALL OF SHAME

     Utah Gov. Gary Herbert – In May, 2016, Herbert was criticized for unethical campaign fund-raising activity. In a tape that was made without his knowledge, as Herbert was trying to get donors to contribute his campaign finance money, Herbert said that he would go anywhere and do whatever it takes. “I’m available. I’m available Jones!” he was heard saying on the tape. Although he did say that there would be no quid pro quo he also said to the lobbyists in attendance that even if he did not agree with them that he would make them happy. (KUTV 2 News)

    Secretary of the Department of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, shown here giving BLM’s false information to Congress.  Zinke will be at the Summit to support the killing (and sterilizations) of over 46,000 wild horses and burros.

     Rep. Chris Stewart of Utah has lied to Congress by implying there was a 41% increase in wild horse & burro population in only 5 months, and by showing a photo of one thin horse, and claiming that a majority of the wild horse population on the range were starving or dying from dehydration.  Stewart was CEO of the Shipley Group, which consults government agencies on navigating through government regulations in the energy sector.  Among the bills Chris Stewart co-sponsored was H.R.334, the Keystone For a Secure Tomorrow Act.  This bill supported the building of the Keystone XL pipeline.  Chris Stewart’s brother, Tim, is a lobbyist for American Capitol Group, a Washington D.C. lobbying firm.  American Capitol Group has lobbied for fossil fuel interests like the Western Energy Alliance, a group mainly comprised of fracking and oil companies.  Tim Stewart lobbies for EnergyNorthAmerica, a company he co-founded to lobby for the Fossil Fuel Industry.  Read more about Chris Stewart’s family ties HERE.

     Keith Norris – Is both the Chair of the National Horse & Burro Rangeland Management Coalition AND the Director of Wildlife Policy & Programs for The Wildlife Society.  Read the testimony that Norris gave to the House Natural Resources Committee in June, 2016 HERE.

     Rick Danvir – Formerly the wildlife manager at Deseret Western Ranches.  (The Deseret Land & Livestock Ranch, DLL, consists of 200,000 acres owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.)  Danvir is now a private consultant (Basin Wildlife Consulting) leading the Wildlife and Range Programs for the Western Landowners Alliance.  The Board of Directors for Western Landowners Alliance includes Mike Phillips, a Montana State Senator, who also represents Ted Turner’s 2 million acres across fifteen ranches in the US and South America (1.2 million of those are in Montana and New Mexico).

Danvir’s Board and other affiliations include the BLM National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Committee, the Utah Wildlife Board, the Cooperative Wildlife Management Unit Association, the Utah Foundation for Quality Resource Management, The Wildlife Society, the Society for Range Management, the Quivira Coalition, and the Center for Holistic Resource Management.

 

Lawmakers Question Interior Secretary Over Whistleblower Reassignment

Source:  Project on Government Oversight (POGO)

Joel Clement, a whistleblower who until recently served as director of the Interior Department’s Office of Policy Analysis. (Photo provided by Wilkenfeld Law)

Bringing further attention to one of the most high-profile whistleblower cases to arise during the Trump administration so far, Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle are supporting a Department of Interior executive who says management retaliated against him because he disclosed how climate change is creating acute risks to Alaskan coastal communities.

The whistleblower case is set against the backdrop of an administration that pulled out of the Paris climate accord, took steps to pull back from other initiatives meant to mitigate global climate change fueled by carbon emissions, and sought to unleash the fossil fuel industry.  The Interior Department is at the forefront of many of these policy changes.

The whistleblower, Joel Clement, until recently served as director of the Interior Department’s Office of Policy Analysis, where he worked with Alaska Native communities whose villages are endangered by flooding and rising shorelines experts say are caused by climate change.  He also managed much of the Obama administration’s Arctic initiatives, implementing Executive Orders, serving on international councils, and helping create the Arctic Executive Steering Committee, an interagency body tasked with coordinating policy on the Arctic.  Clement says he raised the tangible risks that climate change creates for Alaskan communities with White House officials in the Trump administration and senior Interior Department personnel, and it was “clear” to him that they were “uncomfortable” with his message.  Clement also spoke before the United Nations in June about the danger climate change poses to Alaskan villages.

Six days after that UN presentation, Interior Department management moved Clement out of his position into a new one with the Department’s Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR) under a “directed reassignment” effort launched by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.  ONRR handles royalty payments from energy companies that draw fossil fuels from government lands.  “I am not an accountant — but you don’t have to be one to see that the administration’s excuse for a reassignment such as mine doesn’t add up,” said Clement in a Washington Post op-ed published July 19.  He filed a complaint the same day  with the Office of Special Counsel, a federal office that investigates whistleblower retaliation.

Read the rest of this article HERE.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s Utah Visit Was an Embarrassment to the Interior Department and Teddy Roosevelt’s Legacy

Source: Center for Western Priorities.org

“From Wild Horses & Burros to National Monuments, Zinke Wages War Against the Wishes of American Taxpayers”

Zinke: “My Brain is THIS big!” Crowd: “Reeeeeally?”

DENVER—Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke wrapped up a four day tour of Utah, where he visited Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The secretary’s visit was billed as a “listening tour” to hear from locals, but he did not hold a single public meeting, spent nearly the entire trip alongside national monument opponents, and failed to meet with key tribal leaders who have worked to protect threatened cultural sites as a national monument.

As the much-anticipated visit comes to a close, the Center for Western Priorities issued the following statement from Deputy Director Greg Zimmerman:

“It was amateur hour in Utah this week. Secretary Zinke’s one-sided listening tour amounted to little more than a series of staged photo ops with national monument opponents, while the loud pleas from the local monument supporters fell on deaf ears.

“Several times during his visit, Secretary Zinke indicated his mind is already made up— he wants to eliminate or shrink Bears Ears National Monument. Any action to undermine the Bears Ears, or any monument, will leave a dark stain on Secretary Zinke’s tenure at the Interior Department.”

During his trip, Secretary Zinke stood by as Senator Orrin Hatch insulted Native American tribes, then wagged his finger at a Native American monument supporter who asked why he refused to spend more than an hour listening to the tribes that originated the proposal for Bears Ears National Monument. The next day, Secretary Zinke borrowed a horse from San Juan County Commissioner Bruce Adams, who claimed “no one really settled here” before his white ancestors arrived in Utah.

Although Secretary Zinke claimed the outcome of his “review” is not preordained, his actions and words in Utah indicate otherwise. He told the Deseret News, “Bears Ears is a little large to me,” and during a press gaggle, said Bears Ears will “be public land after the monument.”

More Stupid Zinke Stuff:

https://www.ecowatch.com/zinke-national-monuments-2474403129.html

https://missoulanews.bigskypress.com/missoula/zinkes-plan-for-sage-grouse-could-be-disastrous/Content?oid=4758133

http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/07/28/comment-they-tried-to-bully-murkowski-it-didnt-go-well/

http://flatheadbeacon.com/2017/08/15/public-lands-group-launches-ad-campaign-targeting-zinke/

http://www.sltrib.com/news/environment/2017/08/16/lawsuit-filed-over-kane-garfield-commissions-meetings-with-zinke/

…and the hits just keep rolling.

BLM Web Disaster

SOURCE:  climatewest.org

“The Bureau of Land Management has already been under fire for using its website to promote fossil fuel industry interests, but this absolute elimination of online access and information is a scandal of epic proportions.”

Trump’s BLM Web Disaster

By

For those who don’t know, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management has been moving to a new website over the last several months. Far from a seamless transition, however, the move has been a complete disaster.

In the last several weeks, the agency seems to have completely disconnected its old website, effectively erasing any content that once existed on the web. While this wouldn’t be a bad thing if the Bureau had migrated all its content to the new website, unfortunately, this hasn’t happened. Making matters worse, the new website seems to be incomplete, lacks cohesion and any semblance of organization, is slow to load, and barely registers on web searches.

The result has been a complete web catastrophe: Information that was once publicly available is no longer accessible, public access to information and web pages seems to have been eliminated, and, more than ever, Americans are in the dark when it comes to the functions and actions of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Let’s be clear, no matter what your interest or agenda is, this is a major affront to transparency. It also underscores how President Trump and his Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, are bent on shutting out the public out of the management of public lands and resources.

For years, the American public has relied on the Bureau of Land Management’s websites to access all sorts of information: recreation maps; instructions for filing applications for permits and claims; reports and analyses; news updates; staff contact information; and more. Now, it’s pretty much all gone.

Read the rest of this article HERE.