Opinion Pieces


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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