Photo: Steve Bruckmann/Shutterstock

Action Alert: Protect U.S. Public Lands From Drilling and Mining

United States Activism
by Emma Thieme Jan 26, 2017

The problem

President Trump has chosen Rep. Ryan Zinke, a Republican from Montana, as his nominee for the Secretary of the Interior.

First, what does that even mean?

The Secretary of the Interior is the person who controls the Dept. of the Interior (DOI). The DOI is in charge of conservation, natural resources and 75 percent of our federal lands. Another large part of what the DOI does is administer programs for Native American, Alaskan Native and Native Hawaiian communities. This is a big job with a lot of impact on our earth.

Rep. Zinke has a voting record. In the past, he’s voted in favor of weakening environmental standards and clean air regulations. (If you want to see what America would look like today if we had never adopted the Clean Air Act in 1965, check this out.) Not only is Rep. Zinke a climate change sceptic, he’s a huge supporter of expanding fossil fuel projects on public lands, as well as drilling in environmentally sensitive areas like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Arctic Ocean, and most likely in a protected area near you.

What constitutes public and federal land? National parks and forests, monuments, refuges, wetlands, deserts, protected areas — any piece of land, no matter how small, that has been put into a trust for the American people and is now controlled by the federal government. Our government owns 640 million acres of land. If you live in the American west, your land is going to experience the most risk — the U.S. government controls 47 percent of it.

The good news is that the senate confirmation hearings for Rep. Zinke — along with those for Rick Perry, Trump’s equally poor pick for Secretary of Energy — have been postponed indefinitely as of Monday.

The bad news is that they’re obviously going to pop up again in the near future, probably completely under-the-radar, so make your voice heard now. This action alert will take less than 5 minutes to complete.

Call your two senators

The senate needs to approve Rep. Zinke before he can be confirmed as Interior Secretary. No matter where you live in the United States, you can reach your senators at 202-225-3121. Give the operator your zip code and they will connect you.

All you have to say is:

“I urge you to oppose Ryan Zinke as Interior Secretary. I also reject Rick Perry as Energy Secretary.”

But you can also improvise with the following talking points.

Rep. Zinke has ties to the fossil fuel industry and his state, Montana, is one of our country’s top coal producers on public land. That, alone, should disqualify him for Interior Secretary — a position that’s sole purpose is to protect our environment.

Ryan Zinke has voted in favor of drilling, mining and logging on our public lands. These lands are meant for the people, for observing wildlife and respecting nature.

Federally protected lands are invaluable to our communities and to preserving our environment for future generations. Based on his voting record, and his denial of climate change, I do not trust Rep. Zinke to take care of them.

Clean energy jobs are the future and their growth surpassed that of the oil industry last year. Therefore, it doesn’t even make sense to expand drilling and mining on public land. It’s archaic, Rep. Zinke should join us in the year 2017.

Try to name a specific piece of federal or public land that is near you and that you depend on. You could even share a story to illustrate how special that land is to you, your family and your community.

Tips to keep in mind

If your senator is unavailable, leave your message with a staffer. If you prefer to state your piece in a voicemail, call after 5 p.m. If the voicemail box is full, that is unacceptable. Call the office the following morning to complain because a full mailbox means the politician who is representing you is not listening to their voicemails.

You can also send your senators a pre-written email through Friends of the Earth and

That’s all you have to do. Time estimate: less than 5 minutes.

If you completed this action, or have other thoughts, leave your comments below. Matador Network is committed to providing you with easy ways to speak out against the issues that impact us all. If you have an Action Alert suggestion from your community, state, or country, contact Emma at

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