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Western Governors Push Back on Trump's Public Lands Orders

Western governors are giving the Trump administration some feedback, and it is not all favorable, regarding the president's executive orders on the handling of federal lands -- on and offshore.

While the governors of Colorado, Nevada and Wyoming had a constructive meeting with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke last Wednesday on the latest executive order on national monument designations, on Thursday the three West Coast governors from California, Oregon and Washington criticized a planned presidential order on offshore oil/natural gas leasing in federal waters.

President Trump signed an executive order last Wednesday affecting the Antiquities Act of 1906, and potentially future oil and natural gas development, shortly after he and other cabinet officials criticized previous administrations for alleged abuses in using the law to designate millions of acres as national monuments.

Govs. John Hickenlooper (Colorado), Brian Sandoval (Nevada), and Matt Mead (Wyoming) met with Zinke in Washington, DC, and Hickenlooper said he received assurances that none of Colorado's monuments will be reviewed. Colorado has a dozen national parks and monuments, including the Canyon and Ancients National Monuments.

"Our meeting as a whole was very positive, and the secretary committed to working with governors as equal partners," Hickenlooper said, adding that public lands protection is a key part of his state's outdoor recreation industry that generates $34 billion in consumer spending and 350,000 jobs in Colorado.

"Based on my conversation with Zinke, I am confident that the federal government will work with Colorado and our federal delegation to ensure that our national monuments remain protected."

Regarding the  prospects for offshore leasing resuming on the West Coast, the three other governors were less sanguine.

"Now is not the time to turn back the clock," said Govs. Jerry Brown (California), Kate Brown (Oregon), and Jay Inslee (Washington) in a joint statement. "We cannot return to the days where the federal government puts the interests of big oil above our communities and treasured coastline."

The three governors cited past major oil spill incidents involving their respective states, ranging from the iconic 1969 Santa Barbara spill to one in 1999 at Coos Bay, OR.

California’s Brown last December called on the federal government to permanently prohibit any new leasing and development in federal waters under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.

"For good reason there has been no federal expansion of oil/gas drilling along our shared coastline for more than 30 years," the three West Coast governors said.

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