True Conservation at Work: Interior Plans Expansion of Hunting and Fishing Opportunities on Public, Private Lands

Keeping in line with his promise to promote true conservation at Department of Interior, Secretary Ryan Zinke announced today that his department plans to continue expanding fishing and hunting opportunities on public lands. Citing the depreciation of 2.2 million hunters in the new USFWS study, Zinke believes this move — along with partnerships with private land owners — will help address the decline in hunting numbers, instead, by strengthening hunting participation in the U.S.

This move — known as Secretarial Order 3356— aims to “increase outdoor recreation opportunities for all Americans, including opportunities to hunt and fish” and “improve the management of game species and their habitats for this generation and beyond.”

“Hunting and fishing is a cornerstone of the American tradition and hunters and fishers of America are the backbone of land and wildlife conservation,” said Secretary Zinke in the official DOI press release. “The more people we can get outdoors, the better things will be for our public lands. As someone who grew up hunting and fishing on our public lands – packing bologna sandwiches and heading out at 4AM with my dad – I know how important it is to expand access to public lands for future generations. Some of my best memories are hunting deer or reeling in rainbow trout back home in Montana, and I think every American should be able to have that experience.

“Today’s Secretarial Order is the latest example of how the Trump Administration is actively moving to support hunting and other forms of outdoor recreation on public lands. This means finding ways to expand hunting and fishing on public lands, improving access, and taking necessary actions to facilitate the enjoyment of these time-honored activities by any member of our society.”

Here’s what Secretarial Order 3356 will entail once it goes into effect:

  • Within 120 days produce a plan to expand access for hunting and fishing on BLM, USFWS and NPS land.
  • Amend national monument management plans to ensure the public’s right to hunt, fish and target shoot.
  • Expand educational outreach programs for underrepresented communities such as veterans, minorities, and youth.
  • In a manner that respects the rights and privacy of the owners of non-public lands, identify lands within their purview where access to Department lands, particularly access for hunting, fishing, recreational shooting, and other forms of outdoor recreation, is currently limited (including areas of Department land that may be impractical or effectively impossible to access via public roads or trails under current conditions, but where there may be an opportunity to gain access through an easement, right-of-way, or acquisition), and provide a report detailing such lands to the Deputy Secretary.
  • Within 365 days, cooperate, coordinate, create, make available, and continuously update online a single “one stop” Department site database of available opportunities for hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting on Department lands.
  • Improve wildlife management through collaboration with state, Tribal,​ territorial, and conservation partners.

Although he was confirmed in March, Zinke has done an extensive amount of work to bring accountability to his department. From decriminalizing lead usage for hunting and fishing on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) designated lands to improving outdoor access on public lands, the former Montana congressman is proving to be a good steward of the environment by living the sportsman’s creed. He recently concluded his review of national monuments and offered some reasonable recommendations for the Antiquities Act of 1906.

I hope DOI and similar partners also take a look at R3 programs, which seek to recruit, retain, and reactivate participation in fishing, hunting, and the shooting sports.

It’s undeniable that fishing and hunting promote true conservation. Both industries pump back billions into the economy, help kids become proactive members of society, and make this country great. Those who seek to deprive Americans of opportunities to hunt and fish are doing a disservice to this country and to true conservation efforts.

We’ll continue to log Zinke’s efforts here at The Resurgent. Stay tuned.

101.6M People Immersed in Fishing, Hunting, or Wildlife Activities Last Year

The Department of Interior has cited a new U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report finding 101.6 million people–or 40 percent of the population 16 years and older–participated in hunting, fishing, and wildlife activities last year.

“This report absolutely underscores the need to increase public access to public lands across the United States,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke in a press release. “Hunting and fishing are a part of the American heritage. As a kid who grew up hunting and fishing on public lands who later took my own kids out on the same land, I know how important it is to expand access for future generations. Many folks east of the Mississippi River rely on friends with large acreages or pay high rates for hunting and fishing clubs. This makes access to wildlife refuges and other public lands more important.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is under the purview of the Department of Interior. The survey, DOI reports, notes increases in wildlife watching and fishing, but some moderate declines in hunting participation nationally. The study also reveals these outdoor activities have contributed $156 billion back into the economy. These studies are conducted roughly every five years. Here’s more from their findings:

The survey, the 13th in a series conducted nearly every five years since 1955, shows that the most substantial increases in participation involve wildlife-watching—observing and photographing wildlife. The report indicates these activities surged 20 percent from 2011 to 2016, from 71.8 million to 86 million participants during that time. Expenditures by wildlife watchers also rose sharply—28 percent—between 2011 and 2016, from $59.1 billion to $75.9 billion. Around-the-home wildlife-watching increased 18 percent from 2011, from 68.6 million in 2011 to 81.1 million participants in 2016. More modest gains were made for away-from-home wildlife watchers: 5 percent increase from 2011 to 2016, from 22.5 million to 23 million participants.

More Americans also went fishing. The report indicates an 8 percent increase in angling participation since 2011, from 33.1 million anglers to 35.8 million in 2016. The greatest increases in participation—10 percent—were seen in the Great Lakes area. Total expenditures by anglers nationwide rose 2 percent from 2011 to 2016, from $45 billion to $46.1 billion.

Hunting participation dropped by about 2 million participants, but still remained strong at 11.5 million hunters. Total expenditures by hunters declined 29 percent from 2011 to 2016, from $36.3 billion to $25.6 billion. However, expenditures for related items such as taxidermy and camping equipment experienced a 27-percent uptick, and hunting trip-related expenses increased 15 percent.

Many outdoor industry leaders also commented on the USFWS’s findings:

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation 

“No one does more for our wildlife and or wild places than hunters. Any decline in hunting numbers, real or perceived, is of great concern since hunting provides the lion’s share of funding for nationwide conservation work thanks to excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment that garner more than $1.6 annually,” said David Allen, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation president and CEO. “The RMEF remains committed to growing and ensuring the future of our hunting heritage as well as elk, other wildlife and their habitat.”

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

“Hunters and anglers form the foundation of wildlife conservation in the United States, consistently generating more funding for habitat and wildlife management than any other source,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Principal Deputy Director Greg Sheehan. “Industry, federal, and state fish and wildlife agency initiatives that focus on hunter and angler recruitment, retention and reactivation are crucial to sustaining these conservation dollars and ensuring the next generation of wildlife enthusiasts have the opportunity, access, and awareness to pursue these time-honored American traditions.”

Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports

“I praise Secretary Zinke for his support of hunting and land access. The hunting and shooting sports community is grateful for an Administration that recognizes the economic, recreational, and traditional values of hunting and target shooting,” said John Frampton, President and CEO of the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports. “Although the numbers of hunters have declined, we are optimistic they will rebound as a result of Secretary Zinke’s leadership, state wildlife agencies, non-government organizations, and industries working together. Hunting in this country is not only part of our national heritage, it is an important to our country’s economy, as indicated by the expenditures in the survey.”

Despite lower participation hunting numbers, outdoor industry leaders are optimistic Zinke’s leadership will help reverse course. The Interior Secretary has already championed sportsmen’s rights in his short tenure thus far. He rescinded the ban on lead ammo and tackle after getting sworn into office. Last month, he expanded hunting and fishing opportunities on 10 various national wildlife refuges across the country. Despite resistance from those claiming to be champions of sportsmen’s rights, Zinke has been proving his critics wrong by advancing pro-fishing and pro-hunting policies.

Sportsmen should be optimistic about more access to the outdoors with Secretary Zinke at the helms of the Department of Interior. We will continue to catalogue all developments from Interior here at The Resurgent.

 

Interior Will Shrink, Not Eliminate, Some National Monuments Under Review




The Associated Press is reporting the Department of Interior’s review of the Antiquities Act of 1906 will result in the shrinking, not elimination, of some contested national monuments. As to which monuments will be impacted, that has yet to be determined:



Per the AP, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke–after announcing a thorough review of the Antiquities Act earlier this year — is recommending that none of 27 national wildness or ocean monuments under review be eliminated.  But he said several of the contentious monuments will shrink in size. Here’s more from AP:

Zinke told The Associated Press that unspecified boundary adjustments for some monuments designated over the past four decades will be included in the recommendations he planned to give President Donald Trump on Thursday. None of the sites would revert to new ownership, he said, while public access for uses such as hunting, fishing or grazing would be maintained or restored.

 I wrote on this very subject here at The Resurgent earlier this year:

Why shouldn’t citizens have a say over the designation of national monuments in their backyards? Big government coming in and usurping lands with minimal to no public input–which they ultimately forbid hunting, fishing, and hiking on–should anger true conservationists. How can lands be public if the public is refused a voice ? Zinke recognizes the problem with preservation and has instead ushered in a return to true conservation.

Before the fear mongering starts to set in, let’s see what Secretary Ryan Zinke comes up with. He’s not going to sell off all public lands for oil and gas exploration. He’s not going to abuse his privileges. He’s actually offering to be transparent–a key facet absent in his predecessors. To keep public lands truly public, allowing input from those who’ll be impacted by such national monument designations is important. I welcome the improvement and modernization of the Antiquities Act of 1906 and hope you will too.

Perhaps a good compromise to be approved by all? That could likely be the case. We shall see which monuments will be affected–as Bears Ears National Monument should be on the receiving end of this recommendation after President Obama’s last minute illegal move to designate the area as a national monument late last year.

We will continue to follow updates on the public lands debate here at The Resurgent.

New Secretarial Order To Streamline Federal Onshore Oil & Gas Exploration

Secretary Ryan Zinke and his department are going full-throttle on delivering a robust energy policy for oil and gas exploration.

Yesterday, the department announced its plans with Secretarial Order 3354 to ease permit backlogs and delays–specifically to improve upon existing permit processes on federal lands for onshore drilling and to determine solutions to allow access on more federal lands for mineral development.

Since January 31, 2017, the Bureau of Land Management has been sitting on 2,802 Applications for Permit to Drill (APD). The current statute in place requires DOI and BLM to process APD reviews within 30 days. Last year, the process time in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 averaged a whopping 257 days. (This goes to show how virulently anti-energy the Obama administration was.)

In the official DOI press release, Secretary Zinke elaborated on his latest secretorial order:

“Oil and gas production on federal lands is an important source of revenue and job growth in rural America but it is hard to envision increased investment on federal lands when a federal permit can take the better part of a year or more in some cases. This is why I’m directing the BLM to conduct quarterly lease sales and address these permitting issues. We are also looking at opportunities to bring support to our front line offices who are facing the brunt of this workload.” said Secretary Zinke. “This is just good government and will further support the President’s goal of American energy dominance.”

“The Department of the Interior will be a better neighbor in the new Trump Administration,” Zinke added. “As is outlined in this order, we will look at ways to improve the process and make sure regulations serve their intended purpose rather than create a mountain of useless paperwork. By streamlining approvals of responsible energy development on federal land, and actually holding lease sales, we will generate revenue for local communities and the Treasury to fund the things we all value like National Parks, infrastructure and education.”

The Department of Interior has also tackled offshore oil and gas exploration reform by announcing in April their intention to pursue a new 5-year National Offshore Oil and Gas Leasing Program on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). On June 29th, a 45-day period for public input was announced. In late May, Zinke’s department announced plans to jumpstart energy exploration in Alaska.

This latest move to pursue energy independence should be celebrated. It doesn’t mean public lands will be wholly destroyed or “privatized” for the highest bidder. Land management can be sustainable–especially if pursued in the true conservationist manner. The safe and ethical exploration of natural resources is the American way.

Stay tuned for more Department of Interior developments here at The Resurgent.

BREAKING: Zinke Drops Second Hammer on Obama Greenhouse Legacy

Mark this day.

First, President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Accord, the global warming economic treaty-that-wasn’t-a-treaty. Morally, legally, and factually, this was the right thing to do (as Erick laid out rather clearly).

Second, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke signed an order to “jump-start Alaskan energy production in the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska.”

130 days into Trump’s (first) term in office, the Obama greenhouse legacy has been undone.

“The National Petroleum Reserve serves a critical role in both our energy and national security,” said Secretary Zinke. “This is land that was set up with the sole intention of oil and gas production, however years of politics over policy put roughly half of the NPR-A off-limits. Using this land for its original intent will create good paying jobs and revenue for our Northern-most city and strengthen our energy and national security. Working with the Alaska Native community, Interior will identify areas in the NPR-A where responsible energy development makes the most sense and devise a plan to extract resources. We will do it in a way that both respects the environment and traditional uses of the land as well as maintains subsistence hunting and fishing access.”

With this, a second hammer has been dropped on the self-feeding and self-aggrandizing vicious circle of “clean energy” and greenhouse hysteria. Yes, I used scare-quotes there because the whole industry of solar, wind, tidal, and other panacea-invoking energy sources has been based on a lie that we’re running out of oil.

When the lie of rapidly depleting oil reserves was exposed, then global warming was pushed to the point of criminal persecution of scientific dissenters to shut off the flow of fossil fuels. But in fact, we have plenty of oil, new technologies for exploring, drilling, and pumping that oil, coupled with cleaner methods of refining and burning carbon-fuels.

But it’s no longer about “clean.” It’s about “greenhouse gases” that include such ridiculous topics as cow flatulence, and suggestions that we eat insects. I have no problem with renewable energy technology. In time, it will develop and we will use it to great effect. But the way it’s been shoved down Americans’ throats to enrich a few fat-cats is both disingenuous and morally bankrupt.

This order by Secretary Zinke (his name has recently come up since the special election for his former seat in Congress was won by Greg Gianforte) is good for the U.S., good for Alaska, and good for clean energy. Representatives from the Native Alaskan community, North Slope political leaders, Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, Rep. Don Young, and Gov. Bill Walker all praised the order.

“This Secretarial Order is exactly the type of announcement that so many Alaskans have been asking for: a smart, timely step to restore access to our lands, throughput to our Trans-Alaska Pipeline, and growth to our economy under reasonable regulations that do not sacrifice environmental protections,” Murkowski said.

Scienc-y-sounding liberals will have a hard time disputing Zinke’s credentials. “”I’m a geologist. Science is a wonderful thing: it helps us understand what is going on deep below the surface of the earth,” Zinke said. “We need to use science to update our understanding of the 1002 area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as Congress considers important legislation to responsibly develop there one day. This order takes the important first step in a smart and measured approach to energy development in ANWR.”

From the press release:

The National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska is the largest block of federally managed land in the United States. In 2010, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated the NPR-A contained approximately 895 million barrels of economically recoverable oil and 52.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. On February 21, 2013, the Secretary of the Interior signed a Record of Decision approving the Integrated Activity Plan for the NPR-A, which sets forth the Bureau of Land Management’s plan for future management of the area. That plan made approximately 11 million of the NPR-A’s 22.8 million acres unavailable for leasing, potentially precluding development of up to 350 million barrels of oil and 45 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

The 1.5 million-acre coastal plain of the 19 million-acre ANWR is the largest unexplored, potentially productive geologic onshore basin in the United States. The primary area of potential oil and gas exploration is on the Section 1002 Area of ANWR, which was specifically set aside by Congress and the President in 1980 because of its potential for oil and natural gas development.

Over 100 Recreational Leaders Praise Interior Secretary Zinke for Promoting True Conservation

Over 100 executives respresenting recreational groups have praised Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s leadership at his respective department. In an ad printed in the Wall Street Journal, the executives had this to say about Zinke’s leadership.

“In his first 100 days in office, President Donald Trump is setting an agenda to emphasize and prioritize outdoor recreation on federal lands, highlighted by selecting former Montana Con- gressman Ryan Zinke as Secretary to lead the Department of the Interior and donating his first quarter salary to the National Park Service,” the letter said.

It added, “The President’s proposals open the door for greater access to public lands for recreation and increased investment to overcome some $20 billion in deferred maintenance – something prior Administrations of both parties have not resolved.”

“The outdoor recreation industry is also en- couraged by the President’s willingness to tackle America’s long-term infrastructure challenges. His promise of a trillion dollar infrastructure initiative will increase access to the nation’s rec- reation lands through better bridges, roads, waterways, and restored infrastructure within our nation’s parks. Furthermore, visitors would realize vastly improved connectivity, which will boost outdoor safety and enjoyment.”

The letter’s signees represent most sectors of the outdoor recreation industry, which is appraised at $887 billion in worth. The activities they represent include fishing, shooting sports, hunting, archery, camping, marine, motorcycle, powersports, hospitality and recreation vehicle usage.

The executives comprise the Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable, which aims to expand recreational opportunities and subsequent enjoyment on all federal lands and waters. Here’s their full list of goals:

  • Identify and promote recreation business champions to be appointed/nominated to the Trump Administration.
  • Remove barriers from establishing public-private partnerships as entrepreneurial mechanisms for addressing deferred maintenance, including modernizing campgrounds on federal lands to better fit the needs of current and next-generation campers/RVers.
  • Work with Congress to include a recreation title in the forthcoming “Infrastructure Bill” and other legislation to address various recreation infrastructure issues.
  • Promote tax reform to support and grow the outdoor recreation industry.
  • Identify onerous regulations and remove policy barriers that are negatively affecting outdoor recreation businesses and consumers.
  • Fast track the implementation of the Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact (REC) Act to ensure the primary drivers of the outdoor recreation economy across the U.S. are recognized.
  • Prioritize federal agency budgets on recreation-related infrastructure improvement, because outdoor recreation is the largest driver of economic activity on federal lands.
  • Develop and deploy a digital information strategy for outdoor recreation on federal lands, including increased Wi-Fi coverage and easy-to-use apps to book campground/RV sites.
  • Change the mindset of federal agencies so recreational access and high-quality visitor experiences are prioritized.

As I’ve written before, it’s encouraging to see someone like Zinke at the helms of this department. Not only is he making it more accountable and efficient, it’s returning DOI to its true conservation roots. I’ll continue to follow DOI developments and write about them here at The Resurgent.

Interior Department is Correct: Antiquities Act Should be Modernized

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced his review of national monument designations created since January 1, 1996, yesterday –including those national monuments designated under the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations.

Zinke said President Trump authorized him to review any national monument created since this date, which spans at least 100,000 acres. The Interior Secretary says the goal of this review is to “to make sure the people have a voice” over lands that have the highest level of protection from the federal government. The review is expected to be conducted over the course of 45 days.

This move comes after the last administration’s controversial designation of Bears Ears National Monument last December in Utah, which was unanimously opposed by all Republican lawmakers–both federal and local–in the state. Here were Senator Mike Lee’s thoughts on this controversial designation of Bears Ears National Monument from December:

 

During a White House press briefing, Zinke said “The 45-day review is pretty much centered on Bears Ears because that is the most current one.” The report is expected to be completed within 120 days, he said.

Zinke added, “It restores the trust between local communities and Washington.” The review of the two dozen or so monuments aims “to give Americans a voice and make sure their voices are heard,” he said.

The Antiquities Act of 1906 was the first law of its kind to make any designation of national monuments with regards to historic preservation policy. Regardless of your take on public lands, which is very convoluted and multifaceted, one thing is for certain: this law needs to be overhauled and modernized. Here’s the gist of it:

Sec. 2. That the President of the United States is hereby authorized, in his discretion, to declare by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States to be national monuments, and may reserve as a part thereof parcels of land, the limits of which in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected: Provided, That when such objects are situated upon a tract covered by a bona fied unperfected claim or held in private ownership, the tract, or so much thereof as may be necessary for the proper care and management of the object, may be relinquished to the Government, and the Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized to accept the relinquishment of such tracts in behalf of the Government of the United States.

Sec. 3. That permits for the examination of ruins, the excavation of archaeological sites, and the gathering of objects of antiquity upon the lands under their respective jurisdictions may be granted by the Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture, and War to institutions which the may deem properly qualified to conduct such examination, excavation, or gathering, subject to such rules and regulation as they may prescribe: Provided, That the examinations, excavations, and gatherings are undertaken for the benefit of reputable museums, universities, colleges, or other recognized scientific or educational institutions, with a view to increasing the knowledge of such objects, and that the gatherings shall be made for permanent preservation in public museums.

Here’s how social media weighed in on this move:

Zinke believes this review of the Antiquities Act is necessary as his predecessors at Interior stretched it too far to prevent development on millions of acres near land and sea. He believes the law was also abused to cut off access to public lands to anglers, hunters, hikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts.

“By and large, the Antiquities Act and the monuments that we’ve protected have done a great service to the public,” he said, although Western state residents “would probably say it’s abused. My position is, I’m going to be looking into it and evaluating it on a legal basis.”

“I think the concern I have and the president has is when a monument is designated, the community should have a voice,” Zinke added. “I am not going to predispose what any outcome will be. I am going to talk to congressional delegations as I review the list, talk to governors, stakeholders involved and formulate recommendations that are appropriate.”

Why shouldn’t citizens have a say over the designation of national monuments in their backyards? Big government coming in and usurping lands with minimal to no public input–which they ultimately forbid hunting, fishing, and hiking on–should anger true conservationists. How can lands be public if the public is refused a voice ? Zinke recognizes the problem with preservation and has instead ushered in a return to true conservation.

Before the fear mongering starts to set in, let’s see what Secretary Ryan Zinke comes up with. He’s not going to sell off all public lands for oil and gas exploration. He’s not going to abuse his privileges. He’s actually offering to be transparent–a key facet absent in his predecessors. To keep public lands truly public, allowing input from those who’ll be impacted by such national monument designations is important. I welcome the improvement and modernization of the Antiquities Act of 1906 and hope you will too.

 

Safe Oil Exploration is Making a Comeback in the U.S.

New Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is wasting no time implementing Trump’s agenda at his respective department. He announced yesterday that his department will offer 73 million acres in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas exploration development–the opposite of what his predecessor Sally Jewell did.

“Opening more federal lands and waters to oil and gas drilling is a pillar of President Trump’s plan to make the United States energy independent,” Secretary Zinke said in a statement. “The Gulf is a vital part of that strategy to spur economic opportunities for industry, states, and local communities, to create jobs and home-grown energy and to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

The proposed Gulf of Mexico lease sale – Proposed Lease Sale 249- includes  Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. Here’s more from Interior:

Proposed Lease Sale 249, scheduled to be livestreamed from New Orleans, will be the first offshore sale under the new Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022 (Five Year Program). Under this new program, ten region-wide lease sales are scheduled for the Gulf, where the resource potential and industry interest are high, and oil and gas infrastructure is well established. Two Gulf lease sales will be held each year and include all available blocks in the combined Western, Central, and Eastern Gulf of Mexico Planning Areas.

The sale would include “all available unleased areas in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico,” the Department of Interior press release notes. Per Department of Interior estimates, they anticipate 0.211 to 1.118 billion barrels of oil from 0.547 to 4.424 trillion cubic feet of gas developed when this region-wide lease sale goes live.

This is a bold contrast to the previous administration, which was keen to banning offshore drilling and gas exploration altogether. Although news outlets suggest this Interior department is replicating a similar action from the last administration, Zinke  is expected to challenge the bans on offshore drilling in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. When he testified before Congress in January, he affirmed his support for offshore drilling to reduce reliance on foreign oil.

He said, “I can guarantee you it is better to produce energy domestically under reasonable regulation than overseas with no regulation … We need an economy.”

The Obama administration placed moratorium on any new opportunities for offshore drilling, which has had negative ramifications on the economy and job growth. On November 8, 2011, the Obama administration placed a five-year moratorium prohibiting any new offshore drilling by only permitting lease sales to occur on areas already open to oil and gas exploration. This five-year plan excluded the majority of Alaska and made the entire Pacific and Atlantic Coasts off-limits to offshore drilling and gas exploration–thus undermining efforts to stimulate job growth.

Moreover, former President Obama used the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act last December to protect large areas in the Arctic Ocean and string of canyons in the Atlantic Ocean which stretch from Massachusetts south to Virginia. The latter move supplemented a five-year moratorium already in place in the Atlantic–which deliberately made much of the eastern seaboard off-limits to oil exploration. This moratorium is set to expire this year.

The Department of Interior is responsible for overseeing our nation’s lands, water, wildlife, and energy resources, among many things. Zinke has committed to not only protecting wildlife and public lands, but to also overseeing the safe exploration of natural resources. This is a good first step to restoring sanity in this department.

Let’s hope the economy and environment can begin to work in sync with one another.