Grijalva Presses Zinke for His Travel Itinerary, Data on Public Comments for National Monuments Review – Bishop Declines to Join

Washington, D.C. – Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today sent Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke a letter requesting an account of public comments received so far through the Trump administration’s controversial national monuments “review” process and a description of Zinke’s travel and meeting itinerary for trips taken as part of the process. Grijalva asked Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) last Friday to join today’s letter, due in part to the fact that Trump officials have said publicly they will simply ignore Democratic information requests. Bishop did not respond.

Zinke last Saturday submitted a report to the president, pursuant to an April executive order, recommending sweeping changes to the acreage, conservation level and management status of Bears Ears National Monument in Utah – moves the administration claims, without evidence, are responding to public demand. Grijalva’s request gives the administration the opportunity to support its dubious claims and lay to rest widespread doubts about the real motive behind Zinke’s review process, which includes 26 other national monuments. Zinke is expected to produce recommendations on the remaining monuments in early August.

It is extremely unlikely that public comments favor any reduction of Bears Ears’ protected status or acreage. As Grijalva pointed out in a Feb. 25 op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune:

The 2017 version of the state-of-the-art Colorado College “Conservation in the West” poll, released after surveying thousands of representative Westerners about key issues, found such overwhelming support for national monuments in seven states that Utah's breakdown — 60 percent support keeping existing monument designations, while 30 percent support removing them — was the closest margin in the bunch. Let me repeat that for emphasis: Among voters in Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming, the closest you'll get to support for rescinding national monument status is a 30-point deficit.

“If this ‘review’ process is about transparency and public accountability, let’s see some transparency and public accountability from the Interior Department,” Grijalva said today. “Secretary Zinke hasn’t even spent two months on this, and he’s already urging the president to redraw Bears Ears National Monument using a purely invented executive power. If he wants to claim public support for this poorly thought-out scheme, he should explain what public comments have actually been submitted, what the ratio of support to opposition is for Bears Ears, and tell us who he’s spoken with in advance of this recommendation.”

Bishop’s refusal to join Grijalva’s request comes even as the White House continues to lose public support and credibility. Grijalva pointed out that Zinke’s claim to be acting with public support is similar to Trump’s insistence on his own popularity despite support for impeachment (43 percent) now heavily outweighing his public approval rating (36 percent).

Grijalva’s full letter is available at http://bit.ly/2sYoldh.

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