U.S. interior chief says he won’t eliminate or protect protected lands

The Associated Press reports: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced Thursday he won’t seek to eliminate any national monuments carved from the wilderness and oceans by past presidents. But he said he will press to change some boundaries and left open the possibility of allowing drilling, mining or other industries on some of the land.

Twenty-seven monuments in all were put under review in April by President Donald Trump, who has charged that the millions of acres placed under protection by President Barack Obama were part of a “massive federal land grab.”

If Trump adopts Zinke’s recommendations, it could quiet some of the worst fears of his opponents, who warned that vast public lands and marine areas could be stripped of federal protection.

But significant reductions in the size of the monuments or changes to what activities are allowed on them could trigger fierce resistance, too, including lawsuits.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Zinke said he is recommending changes to a “handful” of sites, including unspecified boundary adjustments, and suggested some monuments are too large. [Continue reading…]

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