Interior Department: ‘We Don’t Need Advice’

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Zinke Shuts Down Expert Advisory Panels, Says Closed-Door Decision-Making Will Restore ‘Trust’

Trump has stopped work at more than 200 advisory boards and various committees for the Interior Department until at least September and maybe longer.

The order, in a two-page, May 5 memo, comes as Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is presiding over a proposed land grab of our federal lands to enrich oil, gas and coal companies. A review of national monuments that Trump is intent on plundering ends for Utah’s Bears Ears in June and the rest of the national monuments in August.

“The secretary is committed to restoring trust in the department’s decision-making,” the memo said.

It asked for information on each board including whether the committee is required by law, a list of members of each board and the annual costs for each committee.

ACTION BOX / What you can do about it

Citadel Ruins, Bears Ears National Monument, Utah. BLM photo.

Call Ryan Zinke, the secretary of the Department of the Interior at 202-208-3181 or write him at U.S. Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20240

Contact your representative or senator.

Organizations concerned about stopping the work of the advisory boards and committees include the Center for Western Priorities which can be reached at 303-974-7761 or info@westernpriorities.org.

The committees whose work has been halted include 38 councils that were advising the Bureau of Land Management on issues such as grazing, mining and outdoor recreation.

About a third of the advisory boards are science-based such one that helps the U.S. Geological Survey understand earthquakes.

Ellie Cohen, executive director of Point Blue Conservation Science in California, said halting the board’s work “is reminiscent of the 1930s in Germany when public meetings were banned.”

Work at the Advisory Committee on Water Information has been suspended, despite problems with lead In the water supply of Flint, Mich. and other cities.

At the Environmental Protection Agency, Administrator Scott Pruitt dismissed half the scientists on a scientific review board. He wants to pack the board with industry-friendly appointees who won’t balk so much at polluting our country.

Greg Zimmerman, the deputy director of the Center for Western Priorities, said canceling the meetings of the councils that advise the Bureau of Land Management “sends a clear signal that Secretary Zinke intends to make decisions behind closed doors and not through an open and transparent public process.”