The energy 202: this hunter helped zinke get his job. now he says zinke is putting “our public land

The energy 202: this hunter helped zinke get his job. now he says zinke is putting “our public lands at risk.”
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THE LIGHTBULB Land Tawney. Backcountry Hunters Anglers Land Tawney only really started to worry after President Trumps election once he heard the name Cathy McMorris Rodgers. Rep. McMorris Rodgers — a Republican who represents Washington state’s rural, easternmost district — has advocated for selling off some lands owned by the federal government. In 2011, she cosponsored a bill that would have sold off more than 3 million acres out West. So when Tawney heard that the presidentelect was considering the congresswoman to run the Interior Department, which oversees more than 400 million acres of public lands, the sportsman from Montana sprang into action. Tawney is executive director of Backcountry Hunters Anglers BHA, which bills itself as being the sportsmens voice for publicland issues.  The organization pushes for hunters and anglers to have better access to public lands — and for public lands to stay in federal control. Tawney thought he had an answer to his worries thenMontana Rep. Ryan Zinke RMont., who he met even before his current job and regarded as a reasonable Republican on publiclands issues. Zinke had separated himself from McMorris Rodgers and some other Republicans who, in Tawney’s view, wished to “liquidate” publicly held lands by either transferring them to the care of industryfriendly states or directly selling them to private owners. So Tawney pressed a BHA member who happened to have the presidentelect’s ear — Donald Trump Jr. — to get his father to consider Zinke for the position, instead. “We made it known to the new administration that we thought that Zinke was somebody from the West who understood Western politics and understood the importance of public lands,” Tawney said. Based in part on the suggestion from his son, who like Tawney is an avid hunter, Trump in December chose Zinke to run Interior. “You wouldn’t know he’s a congressman,” Tawney told The Washington Post at the time, praising the pick. “He really prides himself on being a Theodore Roosevelt Republican, and he lives that a little bit more than other people.” Now almost a year later, after getting profiled in Men’s Journal, The Hill and elsewhere as a Democrat with a modicum of sway in Trump’s administration, Tawney said in a recent interview with the Energy 202 that there is a “growing murmur” among BHA members who worry that Washington politics is rubbing off on the Montanan he pushed for DOI. Starting this summer, BHA has issued increasingly distressed news releases on the turn the departments agenda has taken under Zinke. After the Interior Department announced it will revisit a sage grouse management deal struck under President Obama, BHA said “Western landscapes will be poorer as a result.” After Zinke claimed offhandedly that a third of Interior’s staff were disloyal to Trump, Tawney wrote he “never once has questioned the patriotism of our public land managers.” But what truly rattled Tawney was Interiors approach to national monuments. The Trump administration has undertaken a review of parcels of federal lands designated under the 1906 Antiquities Act as worthy of special protection from use by industry. Like presidents before him, Obama used the centuryold law to create national monuments. But Republicans have accused him of abusing that executive power and ignoring state interests by doing so more than two dozen times. Tawney’s organization commended Zinke for amending management plans for existing monuments to ensure access for hunting and fishing. But Tawney was disillusioned when the Interior secretary made moves toward shrinking the size of several of the monuments. “Thats the thing that was most troubling,” Tawney said. “The way weve been looking at it is that an attack on one is an attack of them all,” he said, adding that “I think the monuments review is not necessarily something that Zinke pushed himself.” Nevertheless, BHA in August launched its toughest rebuke to Zinke yet with a television ad campaign titled “What Happened to Ryan Zinke?” “He said he’d fight to protect our public lands,” intones the ads. “Wanted to be like Theodore Roosevelt. But since his Washington promotion, he’s put our public lands at risk.” Tawney is a Democrat, from a Democratic family his father once led Montana’s Democratic Party. Zinke, Tawney said, “was the pick of the litter. I want to make that clear. He was the best choice from what we had in front of us.” Tawney still has kind words for Zinke, calling him “a proven leader.”  Tawney, who often travels to Washington to lobby, said he has spoken to Zinke since he took office although he hasn’t spoken to Trump Jr. since January. As to the question of whether he still regards him as an ally, Tawney split the difference. “What weve always done is weve applauded Zinke for the things that we think he

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