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For Sale: America's Public Lands

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By Mary Sweeters and Olivia Smith

For almost two centuries, the Interior Department has been charged with managing public lands and waters in the best interests of the American people. Emphasis on people. Somehow, President Trump's Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke missed the memo—repeatedly.

Instead of looking out for American taxpayers, Zinke is advocating for the best interests of a group he finds more profitable (and at this point, more friendly towards him): oil, gas and coal companies.


The Interior Department is in the process of dismantling every protection for public lands and waters you've made possible. You took action to protect the U.S. Arctic Ocean from oil drilling—Zinke wants to open it back up. You took action to stop seismic blasting in the Atlantic Ocean, Zinke wants to welcome oil companies back in. You took action to keep coal in the ground—Zinke is putting national monuments at risk by allowing drilling, fracking and mining.

By reversing everything people like you have fought for, Zinke is giving all of us a big middle finger. If the stakes weren't so high, it would almost be comical.

Plain and simple, none of this makes sense.

For one, public lands and waters belong to us. Americans have repeatedly indicated we don't want our national treasures to be drilled, fracked and mined into oblivion. If Zinke were listening to voters instead of fossil fuel lobbyists, he'd know that by now.

The coal industry is dead. Renewable energy is on the rise. Zinke's last ditch efforts to cater to fossil fuel lobbyists are just life support for an industry peddling an outdated product that no one wants. If we want to avoid catastrophic climate change, we can no longer continue to sacrifice so much for so little in return.

And now, Zinke has released a plan to allow oil drilling off the Arctic and Atlantic coasts, something that hasn't happened in 30 years. Just last year, activists like you stopped this from happening. If we did it once, we can do it again. Take action to protect our coasts from more dangerous oil drilling!

Susanna Pershern / Submerged Resources Center/ National Park Service / public domain

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