Date: 2016-02-08 17:47
Subject: Re: National monuments, check-in
TO: John Podesta
FR: Mike Matz,
The Pew Charitable Trusts
RE: National MonumentsAt a crucial time in this final year of the Obama Administration, we perceive there to be a lull in the push for proclamations of national monuments within the departments and agencies that is concerning. Part of this stems from external factors beyond anyone’s control, namely, the occupation by militants of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. But part of it is a sense we gather that key staff simply feel worn down by the lack of enthusiasm of, or even opposition by, departmental leadership. For those who have been effective advocates within the department and agencies, it’s been a Sisyphean task internally of late and they’re getting tired of the uphill struggles, at a point when they should be feeling very positive and upbeat about the prospects. Here’s why this matters right now.Utah
Reps. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz have issued a draft proposal for land protection and exchanges in seven counties of eastern and southeastern Utah. It is a bad proposal that has drawn the opposition of every conservation organization involved in this three-year process. Bishop purposefully included language which weakens management of public lands designated as wilderness, sets bad precedent on transfer of federal lands to the state, and apparently intends to go even farther to the development side when the bill is introduced. Under the guise of “certainty,” he intends to add a provision which would preclude future use of the Antiquities Act in those seven counties, which we’ve made clear all along was unacceptable. In other words, he put together a proposal that would by design engender stiff opposition from the conservation community.
This situation is a very different set of dynamics to that which occurred in Idaho with Rep. Mike Simpson, which worked as planned—Simpson was able to leverage Congressional action on his very acceptable, poison-pill-free Boulder-White Clouds legislation because of the looming possibility of a national monument proclamation.
Reps. Bishop and Chaffetz meet with Secretary Jewell this week. It is imperative that she send the message that a national monument is a very distinct possibility, which she has unfortunately not been very clear about previously and, in fact, has sent signals that these members of the Utah delegation interpret as a commitment not to proclaim a national monument. The monument proposal, called Bears Ears and located in just San Juan County, is put forward by a coalition of Native American tribes, including the Navajo Nation and the Ute Mountain Utes (who are interested in co-management through an MOU).
Bishop and Chaffetz can certainly get this bill of this type through the Natural Resources Committee and even the full House on a partisan basis. However, it would not get through the Senate. Bishop may have calculated that getting it through on his side does make it available for inclusion in some sort of land package at the end of this second session of the 114th Congress. But in the end, if it goes down or isn’t included, they want blame to be placed squarely with the conservation community. Then, if a national monument for Bears Ears is proclaimed, they can use that “executive overreach” and “denial of locally driven solutions” as fodder to again go after the Antiquities Act.
The three monuments in southern California that Sen. Feinstein supports have been teed up for the President’s signature since December. The situation in the Malheur Refuge has now caused understandable delay. However, we believe it should occur as soon as possible after the denouement of that occupation. There is significant local support for these designations and the conservation community and other stakeholders locally and nationally are prepared to amplify that positive reaction.
The Obama Administration has asked for viable opportunities to proclaim national monuments in the eastern U.S. Since the Elk River chemical spill in 2014, Senator Joe Manchin has said he wants to craft legislation that preserves clean and clear water for West Virginia, and has a perfect opportunity to do so for the “Birthplace of Rivers,” which is recommended by the USFS in its management plan for enhanced protection; however, he has been difficult to pin down, and while Sen. Capito and Rep. Jenkins have responded positively, they have indicated they will follow Manchin’s lead. USFS and CEQ in DC are supportive.
More public rumblings about a potential national monument for this place could help spur Manchin to introduce legislation, which in turn could provide the basis for a proclamation if Congress doesn’t do anything. With the Flint water crises currently at the forefront, this could be a very good one for the Administration to move on.
The Owyhee Canyons in southeastern Oregon had been percolating along until the Malheur occupation caused a major hiccup. However, we hope the Administration doesn’t lose sight of this one. It’s biologically very important, and is a nice complement to the Idaho portion of the canyonland that was protected in the 2009 omnibus lands bill that Obama signed into law. We recognize that Sen. Wyden is not the most popular member, and that it will take movement by him and Sen. Merkley to introduce a bill and be more forceful advocates, and we’re working on that.
I understand that you keep involved in these matters on as regular a basis as your campaign duties permit. I’m not making any specific requests, John, but wanted to make you aware of where we perceive things to stand on these important initiatives either of particular interest to the Administration or priorities for us, and for you to have the benefit of this background information if and when the opportunity does allow you to weigh in. I guess we’re hoping to be able to help constructively to make key people within the Administration feel less beleaguered, more energized on moving forward with these opportunities to cement a lasting legacy. We’d welcome your ideas or suggestions. On the Utah situation that is most pressing, I have spoken with Christy Goldfuss recently, and do have a meeting tomorrow with Tommy Beaudreau.
Thanks. And sorry I didn’t get this to you over the weekend.
From: John Podesta <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Friday, February 5, 2016 3:10 PM
To: Mike Matz
Subject: Re: National monuments, check-in
Please follow up by email. Thx.
On Friday, February 5, 2016, Mike Matz <email@example.com<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>> wrote:
John– I wanted to check first to see if this is a viable e-mail address for you, and then I know you’re exceptionally busy with the campaign (which is why I’m contacting you via my personal e-mail address), but I was hopeful I might be able to engage with you on the matter of the Obama Administration’s efforts to proclaim national monuments. I can either lay it out in an e-mail, or if it works, just get on the phone for a 15-minute call to go over it–where we see things, what concerns we have, and to get your suggestions on how we can contribute and insert ourselves constructively, adding value. I’m the guy who introduced you at the 50th anniversary celebration of the Wilderness Act that Tom Campion roped you into. I work for The Pew Charitable Trusts, just for reference.