A Week Away From His Deadline to 'Review' a Bunch of National Monuments He Hasn't Visited, Secretary Zinke Is On a Sexy Greek Vacation

Image via Getty.
Image via Getty.

Over the past several months, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has bumbled around the country in a cowboy hat conducting a review of 27 national monuments established since 1996 to decide whether they should be shrunk down, left alone, or abolished altogether. His deadline is just a week from today, but as conservation group the Center for Western Priorities just pointed out, he appears to be having an outdoor adventure on a different continent right now.

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According to an internal tally by the Center for Western Priorities, Zinke, who is busy filling the Interior Dept. with energy industry allies, has only visited 8 of the 27 national monuments up for review in his capacity as Interior Secretary.

There is no legal precedent for a president to eliminate or significantly reduce a national monument designated by a predecessor under the Antiquities Act, but it sure seems like the Trump Administration is gonna try—after all, what are beautiful, lucrative protected wildernesses good for if you can’t tear them apart to increase profits for the fossil fuel industry?

It’s not particularly clear that visiting them would change his mind; after seeing Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah, established by President Obama at the end of his presidency, Zinke recommended significantly downsizing it.

Although Sec. Zinke has announced that he will recommend no changes to Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, Sand to Snow National Monument, Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Craters of the Moon National Monument, and Hanford Reach National Monument, that still leaves a number of protected natural wonders up for review that Sec. Zinke hasn’t actually been to.

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Could Zinke (or anyone) visit 19 monuments in 7 days? If so, it would no doubt make for a fun—if rushed—road trip. We’ve reached out to the Interior Department for comment on Sec. Zinke’s vacation plans and to confirm the number of monuments he’s visited, and will update if they respond.

Ellie is a freelance writer and former senior writer at Jezebel. She is pursuing a master's degree in science journalism at Columbia University in the fall.

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DISCUSSION

Jerry-Netherland
Jerry-Netherland

I’m surprised that Jez hasn’t posted anything about the tragedy in Barcelona (of all the Kinja sites, Jalopnik is the only one to cover this!)

This is a repost of my comment at Jalopnik to explain a bit of my personal attachment to Barcelona and my take on the (so far 13 dead and 50 hospitalized) logistics.

This stock photo may help illustrate the location...

Las Ramblas is a wide boulevard that consists of two one-way driving lanes with a very wide median that people walk on, sit at cafes; also has news stands and artists, etc. It’s a jewel and a tourist magnet. The Lyceo (one of the world’s great opera houses) is there as well.

I’ve been going to Barcelona for 35 years (in laws live there) and this is just heartbreaking. Barcelona is one of the loveliest cities in the world and this is a major attraction (the Blvd runs about 2 miles from Plaza Catalunya to the sea).

That said, New Yorkers rarely step foot in Times Square and Angelenos avoid Venice Beach. So Las Ramblas is full of tourists, and this attack smells a lot like last year’s tragedy in Bastille Day in Nice. Affluent, beautiful Mediterranean cities filled with tourists during summer holidays.

Just evil.