Under Zinke, Land in Montana Is Still Somehow Protected

Though he’s opened land all over the U.S. to industry, the Interior Secretary is actually pushing to conserve even more of his home state.
April 24, 2018, 5am PDT | Katharine Jose
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U.S. Department of Agriculture

Since his first day as secretary of the Department of the Interior, Ryan Zinke has been instrumental in executing the Trump Administration's pro-development, anti-regulatory agenda, which has included reducing national  monuments in Utah and making it easier to drill for oil and gas in California (among other states).

But as a state senator and congressman in Montana, Zinke was not so wildly opposed to environmental regulation, even earning high marks from at least one conservation organization. And now, reports The New York Times, he seems to be treating his home state as an exception:

“In the past year, Mr. Zinke has halted the sale of oil and gas leases near Yellowstone National Park, opposed gold mining in that area, and urged the president to protect one national monument, Montana’s Upper Missouri River Breaks, while creating another, the Badger-Two Medicine, just miles from his childhood home.”

He has also pledged to commit “whatever it takes” to rebuild “a cherished century-old backcountry chalet.”

It’s not the first time Zinke has been accused of favoring one state over another for the purpose of advancing a political agenda; after opening up almost all offshore areas under his purview to oil and gas drilling, he then traveled to Florida, where Trump’s favored senate candidate will be challenging a Democrat, and reversed himself.

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Published on Monday, April 16, 2018 in The New York Times
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