You're No Teddy

You're No Teddy
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I’ve read biographies of President Teddy Roosevelt, and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, you are no Teddy Roosevelt. That is the case even though you pledged to “create a conservation stewardship legacy second only to Roosevelt” (the father of the modern environmental movement).

Roosevelt introduced the concept of national monuments that preserve spectacular landscapes. While in office, he established 18 of them, some of which eventually became world-renowned national parks.

You, on the other hand, have sought—at industry’s behest—to reduce significantly the size of four existing land-based national monuments. You also recommended the start-up of commercial fishing in three largely pristine federal marine sanctuaries.

Roosevelt established five official national parks. You want to raise park entry fees, in effect pricing out members of the general public, among the very people whom Roosevelt was seeking to proselytize.

By the time Roosevelt was finished with his presidency, he had set aside 230 million acres of public land for conservation purposes. Conversely, you have opened up millions of acres of previously undeveloped federal land to coal mining and oil drilling.

Roosevelt was responsible for creation of the national wildlife refuge system. Your most recent contribution involves approval of a controversial road intersecting Alaska’s Izembek National Wildlife Refuge to the detriment of its extraordinary wilderness values.

Roosevelt made provision for 51 federal bird preserves. You, sir, relieved energy companies of liability for the accidental killing of migratory birds when they collided with industry infrastructure. In the process, you removed the incentives for mitigation measures.

Roosevelt called the extinction of the vast buffalo herds on the Great Plains “a veritable tragedy”. You have gone along with congressional efforts to weaken the Endangered Species Act and led the charge in the premature delisting of the grizzly bear as a threatened species. Withdrawing the hard pressed greater sage- grouse’s protection against mining activity has also occurred on your watch.

Roosevelt once declared that “the nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value.”

You are the guy who proposed opening up all of our nation’s coastal waters to offshore drilling. It drew immediate opposition from all the coastal states, fearing the threat of long-term oil spill pollution of their renewable natural beauty and its tourist allure. In the same vein and diametric to the spirit of Roosevelt, you are supportive of allowing drilling on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s coastal plain, a unique ecological treasure trove.

Where is your second coming of Teddy Roosevelt? Your invocation of him as your environmental role model notwithstanding, in a moment of candor, you clarified everything. It was your public declaration that your mission at the Interior Department was to achieve “energy dominance” for the nation.

If one could turn back the clock and familiarize Teddy Roosevelt with your record and predilections, you could not get past his front door at the White House.

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