Opinion Pieces

05.15.18

Our Mining Laws Are More Than a Century Old—Time to Update Them

My Republican friends on Capitol Hill often complain that our nation's bedrock environmental laws are out of date. Their argument, which I disagree with, is that laws written in the 1960s and 1970s aren't relevant in the modern world. Unfortunately, their concern about updating laws written in the 1970s doesn't extend to at least one law from the 1870s. The General Mining Act of 1872 still governs all the mining for gold, silver, copper, and other metals that happens on our federal lands-and t… Continue Reading


05.08.18

Rep. Raul Grijalva: America risks being left behind on clean energy

French President Emmanuel Macron's recent visit to the U.S. offers a stern reminder that even as the Trump administration tries to withdraw our country from the global community, our friends and foes around the world continue to respond to climate change, and those responses will have long-lasting implications. Economies both large and small have begun a shift from fossil fuels to renewable and low-carbon energy sources. Unfortunately, for ideological reasons, Republicans in Washington are blin… Continue Reading


04.29.18

Be progressive, Democrats, not merely liberal

When I was elected to the House of Representatives in 2002, the American left found itself in the wilderness. George W. Bush's approval ratings topped 80 percent. Republicans controlled both chambers of Congress, and the Clinton administration felt like a distant memory. Far from debating whether we thought of ourselves as "liberals" or "progressives," most Democrats were debating how to win an election and become relevant again. Our congressional sweep in 2006 and President Barack Obama's elec… Continue Reading


04.12.18

Opinion: When Trump Dreams About Our National Parks, He Sees Oil

For most Americans, the mention of national parks brings to mind the scenic vistas of the Grand Canyon and Yosemite Valley or contemplative memorials like the Statue of Liberty and Pearl Harbor. Few people think of the tremendous amount of infrastructure - from roads and bridges to visitors centers and sewer systems - that supports 330 million annual visitors and $34.9 billion in annual economic output. The National Park Service manages a broad network that requires routine repairs, rehabili… Continue Reading


04.06.18

Grijalva: Grizzly conservation should reflect tribal input as well as best available science

When the state of Wyoming proposed a new grizzly bear hunt in March, the first in the lower 48 states in more than four decades, the timing was especially jarring for those of us who work hard to conserve the species. The state should have waited at least until the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces whether it will reverse its 2017 decision to remove Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, which stretches across Wyoming, Montana and … Continue Reading


03.23.18

Open Letter to Gun Manufacturers: Stop Hiding on our Public Lands

Dear Gun Manufacturers, including Midway USA, Springfield Armory Inc, Pierce Bullet Seal Target Systems, and Beretta USA: If I wasn't so disturbed by what you've done, I might be impressed. For decades, you've successfully hidden in the enormous shadow of the National Rifle Association (NRA) while your reputation has remained remarkably unscathed. You funnel tens of millions of dollars to the NRA through corporate sponsorships while they happily take the bullet for your dangerous political hand… Continue Reading


03.18.18

Commentary: When Americans look at a map of the US, they see natural wonders. When Trump looks, he sees unrealized industry profits.

After President Trump illegally shrank Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah last year, removing federal protections from approximately 2 million acres of public land, his supporters swore it had nothing to do with drilling or mining. They claimed the move, which is now being challenged in federal court, was about listening to public input, nothing more. When skeptics pointed out that Grand Staircase-Escalante has known coal deposits a… Continue Reading


03.16.18

Republican politicians should support the outdoor industry

It's easy to forget now, but President Donald Trump didn't just campaign on his plan for a border wall or his opposition to Hillary Clinton. He ran on his alleged business acumen, and part of his appeal was based on the idea that he knew a good deal when he saw one. Now, new economic numbers show us that his understanding of our economy - and his knowledge of which American industries have the brightest future - are mistaken. Thanks to Bureau of Economic Analysis numbers released Feb. 14, we kn… Continue Reading


03.14.18

Industry should comply with the Methane Waste Prevention Rule

Before leaving office, President Obama instituted a rule limiting the oil and gas industry's wasting of natural gas on public and tribal lands. The standard, formally known as the Methane Waste Prevention Rule, was a set of commonsense updates - such as requiring companies to detect and fix leaky equipment - projected to bring in an additional $23 million annually in royalties to states, tribes and federal taxpayers, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 950,000 cars off the r… Continue Reading


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

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