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Certain sandstone arches in Utah emit a steady hum. Shown here: Metate Arch in Devil's Garden, Utah. raphoto / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Zoe Woodcraft

The sound is like a low, steady rumble, soothing yet powerful. Imperceptible to the human ear, the hums of red rock arches in Bears Ears and Grand Staircase National Monuments carry with them the deep patterns of the earth's plates sparked by events like ocean currents colliding in the open Pacific that pump the ocean floor. On the surface, wind spilling over the arches amplifies the vibrations, giving voice to movements in the earth that began thousands of miles away.

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A part of Bears Ears that was lopped off partly due to the work of Downey Magallanes, who will move to BP after Labor Day. U.S. Bureau of Land Management

A Department of the Interior (DOI) official who played an important role in opening public lands to fossil fuel interests has left the federal government to accept a job at BP, The Washington Post reported Monday.

Former DOI Deputy Chief of Staff Downey Magallanes led the review that resulted in Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke's plan to shrink the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Utah by 85 and 46 percent respectively, Think Progress pointed out.

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David Gessner

By David Gessner

I am sitting near the top of the eastern ear, or rather the eastern earlobe, of Bears Ears, the redock buttes that give our most controversial national monument its name. From up here I can look back on my starting point, the meadow far below and two miles north where a big white tent marks the social center for the reunion of five Native American tribes during the fourth annual Bears Ears Summer Gathering. Hundreds of Indigenous people, environmental organizers, and members of the media like me make up the first meeting of this sort since President Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced, last December, that they were going to reduce Bears Ears by 85 percent.

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Native American tribes believe Bears Ears is the last of undisturbed sacred lands. Mark Stevens, CC BY-NC-SA

By Rosalyn R. LaPier

Forty years ago the U.S. Congress passed the American Indian Religious Freedom Act so that Native Americans could practice their faith freely and that access to their sacred sites would be protected. This came after a 500-year-long history of conquest and coercive conversion to Christianity had forced Native Americans from their homelands.

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Drill pad in Gunnison National Forest, Colorado. Mason Cummings / The Wilderness Society

By Katherine Arcement

Congress wants us to drill our lands and waters … or else!

Some members of Congress are trying to rig the system to use public lands primarily for oil and gas drilling, and they are threatening to silence and punish anyone who objects.

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Lands threatened by BLM's March 2018 sale include Hatch Point. Neal Clark / SUWA

The Interior Department on Tuesday is auctioning off 32 parcels of public lands in southeastern Utah for oil and gas development.

The Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) lease sale includes more than 51,000 acres of land near Bears Ears—the national monument significantly scaled back by the Trump administration last year—as well as the Hovenweep and Canyons of the Ancients monuments.

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The Citadel Ruins at the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. Bob Wick / Bureau of Land Management

Even though Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke insisted "this is not about energy," environmentalists and public lands advocates have long suspected the Trump administration's cuts to national monuments were driven by its push for more drilling, mining and other development.

Now, internal Interior Department documents obtained by the New York Times show that gaining access to the oil, natural gas and uranium deposits in Bears Ears and coal reserves in Grand Staircase-Escalante were indeed key reasons behind President Trump's drastic cuts to the two monuments in Utah.

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Ryan Zinke at USDA headquarters in Washington, DC on Jan. 18, 2018. Lance Cheung / USDA / Flickr

Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke is the winner of the Center for Biological Diversity's 2017 Rubber Dodo award. The statue is awarded each year to the person or group who has most aggressively sought to destroy America's natural heritage or drive endangered species extinct.

"Ryan Zinke seems to wake up every day wondering how he can tear apart America's public lands, ramp up oil and gas development and put endangered species on a fast track to extinction," said Kierán Suckling, the Center for Biological Diversity's executive director.

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Radiation area from Horseshoe Mesa uranium mine tailings at Grand Canyon's South Rim. Al_HikesAZ / Flickr

By Stephanie Malin

Uranium—the raw material for nuclear power and nuclear weapons—is having a moment in the spotlight.

Companies such as Energy Fuels, Inc. have played well-publicized roles in lobbying the Trump administration to reduce federal protection for public lands with uranium deposits. The Defense Department's Nuclear Posture Review calls for new weapons production to expand the U.S. nuclear arsenal, which could spur new domestic uranium mining. And the Interior Department is advocating more domestic uranium production, along with other materials identified as "critical minerals."

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Bears Ears National Monument. Gannon McGhee / Flickr

Researchers, led by paleontologist Rob Gay, have discovered what may be one of the world's richest caches of Triassic period fossils at an extensive site within the original boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument. The team's initial excavation led to the extraordinary discovery of several intact remains of crocodile-like animals called phytosaurs. The findings were publicly announced at this week's Western Association of Vertebrate Paleontologists (WAVP) annual conference where researchers warned of a growing threat to their work in the region.

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Oil pumps just outside Canyonlands National Park, Utah. Mason Cummings / Wilderness Society

The Interior Department is moving to expedite the leasing process for allowing oil and gas drilling on public land, according to an agency memo made public Thursday.

The memo released by the Bureau of Land Management states that it seeks to "simplify and streamline the leasing process to alleviate unnecessary impediments and burdens ... to ensure quarterly oil and gas lease sales are consistently held."

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