Opinion Pieces

01.25.18

Public lands, private pain: Stopping sexual harassment at the Interior Department

The overdue national conversation on sexual harassment has revolved around awful behavior by well-known individuals. This media focus on the latest big name in entertainment, business or politics, while perhaps unavoidable, has tended to gloss over a big part of the story: sexual harassment pervades all kinds of workplaces, including federal agencies. A newly released report by the minority staff of the House Natural Resources Committee shows that the Department of the Interior (DOI), which ove… Continue Reading


12.19.17

Stop trying to militarize Interior, Ryan Zinke

During his confirmation hearing and throughout his time in office, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has presented himself as an admirer of Teddy Roosevelt and a believer in conservation. But less than a year into his tenure, his leadership has produced an existential crisis at the Department of the Interior. Zinke has surprised many with his willingness to support President Donald Trump's extreme environmental policies, including the recent attempt to erase most of two national monuments in Utah f… Continue Reading


12.15.17

Administration eyes tax cuts for the wealthy as it seeks to hike Park Service fees

In Donald Trump's world, the super-rich deserve low taxes but should pay exorbitant fees for outdoor recreation at private golf clubs and resorts. Disappearing tax bills and princely membership fees are badges of honor. Now Mr. Trump wants to run the country like a country club. His administration - supported by Republicans in Congress - is proposing a massive tax cut for those in the top tax bracket and pushing an enormous increase in the fees paid by visitors to our national parks. It's the k… Continue Reading


11.27.17

Stop seeing the Grand Canyon as potential strip mine

For all its grandeur, some people see the Grand Canyon as a potential strip mine. Unfortunately, a new report from the Trump administration just opened the door to new uranium mining in the region - and raised questions about who's really making federal environmental policy. Since January of 2012, approximately 1 million acres of federal land outside Grand Canyon National Park have been protected by a moratorium on new uranium mining claims. The policy was created after a public outreach process… Continue Reading


11.16.17

A Democratic approach to energy: promote the interests of citizens, not industry

Donald Trump claims to have an "America First" energy plan. His administration's actions over the past 10 months have made it clear that what he truly puts first are the interests of oil, gas and coal executives. Everyday Americans and our iconic American landscapes come last, if he considers them at all. Time after time Trump has capitulated to oil and gas industry deregulatory demands by gutting safety standards, decreasing royalty rates, advantaging fossil fuels, ignoring the threats of cl… Continue Reading


07.21.17

Congressman: My colleagues' national monument claims are disingenuous

Arizonans of all political stripes know that our state's economy depends on outdoor tourism. More than 6 million people visited the Grand Canyonlast year, to say nothing of the many other national parks, forests and monuments our state is fortunate to include. Maintaining our federally protected public lands is critical - not just to our economy, but to our environment and our way of life. Unfortunately, a campaign funded by narrow special interests has gained traction in recent years to elimi… Continue Reading


07.05.17

Dear Secretary Zinke: Being a Good Neighbor is NOT “Un-American”

In early 2015, the Bureau of Land Management reached an agreement with ConocoPhillips, one of the world's largest oil companies, to allow drilling in a protected region of Alaska known as the National Petroleum Reserve (NPR-A). The nearly $900 million project was expected to reduce a nearby Alaska Native community's ability to hunt and feed itself, and the agreement included an $8 million ConocoPhillips payment that went toward mitigating its impacts. Twenty or 30 years ago this might not have… Continue Reading


05.27.17

Step up now to preserve U.S. public lands

For Americans worried about where our environmental policies are headed, it's important to remind ourselves that we have many important milestones to our credit. On March 1, 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant - a Republican - signed the bill that declared Yellowstone the world's first national park, a vision of conservation that nearly every country now follows. A century later, on Dec. 28, 1973, President Richard Nixon - also a Republican - signed the Endangered Species Act into law. This pr… Continue Reading


05.16.17

More U.S. Action Required on New England Fishery

On March 30, Carlos Rafael - the infamous "Codfather" of New Bedford, Massachusetts - pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges. According to an affidavit from the IRS agent who uncovered the scam, Rafael and his company hurt taxpayers and made a mockery of fishery conservation and management efforts for years by falsely reporting landings, the size of his fleet's catch, and income. His fraud in mislabeling nearly 800,000 pounds of fish to evade quotas on cod, flounder and sole was so massive… Continue Reading


05.07.17

Why I sued to stop Trump's bogus border wall plan

President Trump says he cares about people, money and the environment. But if the money belongs to the federal treasury, the people are from diverse cultures, or the environment isn't near one of his golf clubs, his concern disappears. There is no better example of this brutal indifference than the president's plan to build a "beautiful" wall along our southern border. Trump's attempt to wall out Mexicans mixes scapegoating with bigotry and then disguises them as concern for public safety. … Continue Reading


03.15.17

The Endangered Species Act Doesn't Need "Reform"

Like most Americans, in school I learned that Congress functions best when people with different political philosophies work together. While the ideal of reaching across the aisle is still treated with reverence, bipartisanship only works in practice if there's a genuine issue worth addressing. When cooperation is invoked to push one side into addressing a "problem" that doesn't exist, calls for bipartisanship often hide a deeply partisan agenda. So it is with the Endangered Species Act (ESA),… Continue Reading


02.26.17

Bishop Wants Trump to Do His Bears Ears Dirty Work

After the Senate confirms Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., as secretary of the Interior, which could happen as soon as this week, his first trip will almost certainly be to Utah and to the Bears Ears National Monument. When Zinke visits, he will likely get an earful, again, from Rep. Rob Bishop, who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee where I serve as ranking member. Bishop has set himself up as Congress' foremost cheerleader for rescinding the Bears Ears designation. In an interesting twist o… Continue Reading


02.22.17

Donald Trump's Border Wall Could Cut Through Your Backyard

In the early 1990s, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) proposed building a one-hundred-mile freeway to replace U.S. Route 23 along the western shore of Lake Huron. Construction of the new $1.5 billion road required federal permits, making it subject to review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Because of the size and scope of the project, MDOT and the Federal Highway Administration completed an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and posted that document for publ… Continue Reading


02.22.17

Climate change tied to nation's infrastructure needs

In what's become a troublingly common occurrence, the combination of extreme weather and crumbling infrastructure threatened the residents of another American community in California not long ago. Extensive rainfall in Northern California damaged the spillway of the Oroville Dam - the nation's tallest - and threatened numerous communities below the dam with massive flooding. As The Atlantic reported on Feb. 13, "drought, climate change, and aging infrastructure combined to create a looming cat… Continue Reading


02.14.17

When the power of protest works

On Jan. 24, my colleague, Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, introduced a bill mandating the sale of more than 3 million acres of federally protected land to private buyers. In a dramatic turnaround little more than a week later, he announced that the bill, which he had introduced during each successive Congress for a decade now, "dies tomorrow." Why? Chaffetz explained: "Groups I support and care about fear it sends the wron… Continue Reading


02.01.17

Making America Sick Again: What a Repeal of the Affordable Care Act Could Mean

Republicans in Congress tend to forget about Native Americans, and it looks like they are about to do so again. When Republicans in Washington brag about repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), there is something they forget to mention: repealing the Affordable Care Act would repeal authorization for the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA), which was included in Obamacare. Destroying the Affordable Care Act will indeed make America sick again, and it could make Native Americans sickest o… Continue Reading


01.31.17

Stand Up, Environmentalists — There’s More to Fight For Now Than Ever

Most of us who worry about environmental issues did not support Donald Trump for president. His tweeted claim that the very idea of global warming "was created by and for the Chinese" and his eagerness to repeal environmental protections make him ill-suited to head federal agencies that protect our natural world. So now what? What should committed environmentalists, in Congress and in communities around the country, be preparing for? The Trump administration and its House and Senate alli… Continue Reading


01.25.17

The Keystone pipeline will create just 35 permanent jobs. Don't believe the lies

For those who still insist fossil fuels are the future, the Trump administration represents a new day for some old ideas. In an early sign of things to come, the president showed his faith in big oil when he signed documents Tuesday pressuring federal agencies to support construction of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines. Each of these projects faced enormous protests and was put on hold by the Obama administration because of legitimate environmental and due process concerns. Congr… Continue Reading


10.06.16

Communities of color don’t find national parks as inviting as their white friends and neighbors

When we celebrated the one hundredth anniversary of the National Park Service on August 25th, many of us reflected on the family trips we'd made over the years, the historic sites and stunning landscapes we'd visited, and the wonderful people we'd met in our travels across the country. It was a rare moment to reflect on an agency that has played a huge role in defining the American experience. All of those things were on my mind that day. But as the senior Democrat on the House Natural Resource… Continue Reading


09.30.16

Dear Speaker Ryan: your 'forward-looking agenda' ignores climate change

House Speaker Paul Ryan spent much of this summer promoting the Republican policy agenda he calls "A Better Way." He's selling this repackaged mix of upper-income tax cuts and unregulated capitalism as a set of innovative, up-to-date solutions to our country's ailments. The message: even if many Republicans don't think Donald Trump can govern, House Republicans have a plan. Unfortunately, their plan has a glaring flaw. No worthwhile agenda focusing on poverty, security, and economic growth can … Continue Reading

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