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tv   Senator Cantwell Speaks Out Against Interior Secretary Nomination  CSPAN  March 1, 2017 5:55am-6:26am EST

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the presiding officer: the senator from washington. ms. cantwell: mr. president, i rise today to speak about the nomination of congressman ryan zinke to be secretary of interior. the secretary of interior is one of the most important jobs in the federal government, and even more so for people in the west. i know the presiding officer
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would agree with that. the department of interior has an incredible broad portfolio. it is responsible for managing our nation's public lands, our national parks, our national wildlife refuges, and overseeing mineral and energy development on our public lands and in our federal waters offshore, making sure that the taxpayers of the united states get a fair deal for the resources that the public, the public actually owns. so ensuring also that tribal trust responsibilities are met and attending to what are our insular affairs. and the secretary of interior manages a large part of water resources in western states, again which i know the presiding officer knows so well because there are so many issues -- did the president knows so well because there are so many issues related to drinking water or hydroelectric facilities that affect millions of our citizens. so it is a far-reaching and
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diverse portfolio, and it requires the secretary to take into account not only the demands of the extraction industry, the oil and gas and coal and hard rock mining companies, the secretary above all must protect the public's interests. i think the public could probably best understand this by knowing what happened in the gulf in the implosion that happened with the deep water horizon. here the department of interior and management resource agencies, in my opinion, should have been doing a better job protecting the public and protecting that vital resource. the conclusion of hearings after this fact said there were many recommendations to clean up and streamline the middle management agency so that it was not catering to the interests of the oil and gas industry but making sure that it adhered to what was the public interest. now all of that has been made
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famous in a movie in which many of the public i think can go and see, they are taking shortcuts when it comes to extraction of mineral resources is not a good idea and having an interior secretary that makes sure that he manages these resources well is critical, critical to our nation. also, the outdoor recreation industry in and of itself, in my opinion -- and i'm sure for many others here who understand it -- has become a juggernaut. i will talk about that in a little bit, but it is an economy in and of itself. it's worth preserving. it's worth fighting for. and it is a source of tax revenue, income, jobs and most importantly a quality of life that so many americans hold dear. i have been so touched by the letters that i've gotten from veterans who have said to me on their returning back from iraq and afghanistan to have the
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wonders of the outdoors as a place for peace and sanctuary has been so critical to them. they have argued in support of important programs like the land and water conservation fund and others to make sure that our public lands are there for them to enjoy and for their children to enjoy in the future. so in short, the secretary must balance the short-term demands of developing resources on these public lands against the need to protect the environment and sensitive areas and preserve that natural heritage, as i said, for future generations. this is very important that we have a secretary who understands what our nation's leading stewardship responsibilities are, understands what those special places are like the grand canyon or other places, mount rainier, and making sure that they protect them. i had hoped to be able to support congressman zinke's nomination based on his
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assurances that he would manage the department of interior as a, quote, teddy roosevelt republican, end quote. however, i can't ignore the trump administration's plans for our public lands and resources, and i cannot ignore congressman zinke's commitment during our committee hearings to, quote, work to implement president-elect trump's energy independence policy, end quote, and as well as a variety of positions on returning federal land, taking public lands off the protection that they deserve today. these are very important public policy issues and i know that president trump said to many people, my cabinet is free to say whatever they want. so the fact that these important policies are going to be implemented that may erode what have been00 of years of policy
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in managing our public resources is quite concerning to me. what exactly is the trump administration's plan? clearly the trump administration intends to pursue drilling on our public lands and waters and they have made it clear to undo what are reasonable protections put in place in environmentally sensitive areas. that the administration will renew its efforts to reverse protections of important onshore and offshore areas and based on energy plans posted on the white house web site just immediately after the president's inauguration, the president seems to be committed to simply opening up as much federal land as possible to coal mining and energy development. the administration has said it will use money from drilling and mining of all our public lands and waters to pay for
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multibillion dollar infrastructure package. my constituents want to know -- where do you draw the line? where does that stop in the administration has already suspended rules ensuring polluters on our public lands don't have to pay their fair share and the president has signed into law a measure gutting the obama administration rule that would have prevented coal companies from dumping toxic chemicals into our nation's rivers and streams. it is clear to me the new administration will do everything it can to reverse the responsible management of our public lands and instead pursue an aggressive energy development policy without regard to the environmental and public health consequences, the bedrock principle is that polluters should pay and should clean up their messes on public lands. we might all have a different opinion here about how much
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public land, but i think everybody should be in agreement that polluters should pay and should leave our public lands in a pristine nature. so it is equally clear that the new administration will be encouraged in this effort by the majorities in the house and the senate by some of the legislation we've already seen, enabling coal companies, as i said, to dump their mining wastes into streams and impacting safe drinking water, enabling the oil companies to use the energy without paying for it, and reports that the president intends to issue an executive order to overturn the current moratorium prohibiting new coal leases on federal land. that is an issue about getting a fair deal for the taxpayer. the taxpayer is impacted by this coal extraction. that is, we are letting coal companies, instead of doing the job that it takes to extract
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coal and not having an impact on the public, we are giving them that federal resource and they are making lots of money on it without a responsibility to us, the taxpayer. the previous secretary, secretary jewel, basically said for the first time in many years, they would look at what is the industry is paying as far as coal royalities. is that process is under way and we think it should be carried out. we think the taxpayer deserves a fair deal. unfortunately, i'm not convinced that congressman zinke will be able to moderate the trump administration's extreme views on exploiting our public lands and i'm not sure you he will be able to stand up to the president and protect the public interest that is required on our public lands and manage for the benefit of all americans, not just the oil and gas and mining companies and their commercial interests. as i said at the outset, the
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secretary's principal job is to be a guardian, a steward of the public lands. to me stewardship is so important. so many of my colleagues come to the floor and act like they are managing this resource for their lifetime and their generation. stewardship is about managing these resources for future generations as well. if our past ancestors had been so callous with the federal resources, where would we be today? so it is so important that we not look at the federal lands through the narrow resource that someone has in their particular state or interest, but make sure that stewardship is about future generations as well. so with that in mind, i have seen several laws and regulations already under attack that are fundamental to keeping that mission of stewardship at the department of interior, including the clean water act, the federal lands policy and management act, clean air act
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surface mining control and reclamation act and the an ticketies act. -- an ticketies act. while congressman zinke said he would pose this to the federal states, at the same time he indicated he is willing to consider transferring away management of certain federal lands to the states. so what does that mean? for example, you could have had a monument or designation of federal land. it could be even mount rainer or some beautiful place in the pacific northwest and consequently transferring that back to a state and that particular state wouldn't happen in washington, but might happen in are another state, they -- in another state, they start to extract resources from that land. you think that couldn't possibly happen. i have news for you. that is the debate. this is exactly, exactly, exactly the debate today.
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this past congress, congressman zinke cosponso cosponsored a bio mandate red snapper fisheries. he clearly undercut the commitment to federal resources. we also know that he has previously supported efforts to restrict use of the an ticketies act. he appears open to efforts to repeal certain designated monuments he has indicated one of his first priorities upon confirmation will be to visit utah to consider a republican proposal to rescind the recently designated bears ears national monument. is this despite the strong support of many across the nation and in utah and tribal support for bears ears
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intertribal coalition representing the affected tribes in this region. as somebody who enjoys the outdoors, i can tell you how important it is to be able to go and wreck reate. -- to recreate. i know many have seen this unique terrain and it is a very special place. as we enter this debate, bears ears and its monument and whether you're going to roll back federal land will be at the center of this discussion. created by president obama, bears ears encompasses 1.3 million acres of mesas, sand stone canyons and spiritually significant lands to local tribes, and as i just mentioned, some of the best climbing in the
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world. that is, the climbing industry loves to recreate there. the conservation community and tribes have fought for many years for this designation. if and when confirmed, congressman zinke will be under intense pressure to undo this designation. the heated debate on this subject boyleed -- boiled over a week ago as the outdoor industry decided to leave salt lake city after being there two decades and contributing $40 million to the economy in various shows they had each year that because of utah's stated desire and congressional delegation's interest in basically reclaiming this federal place and selling it off for extraction from the oil and gas industry. i was so proud that these retailers, who, like r.e.i. in
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my state or others like black dimed or the outdoor research basically put their money where their mouth is. they decided that if a state was going to attack the very economy that was so important to them in jobs and recreation, that they were going to do something about moving their impacted industry somewhere else. i'd like to read what the salt lake city editorial board had to say about this issue. quote, in the same week that utah announced that it had topped $8.7 billion in annual economic benefit from tourism, the $40 million outdoor retail show announced it was leaving. surely we can take a half
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percent hit, right? no. the exit of the outdoor retailers is much more than losing the state's largest convention. there will be hospitality jobs lost, hotel rooms from sandy to augton vacant, there will be a nine-room convention hotel with public bonding authority largely unspec, there is no convention on salt lake city's dock ets that demands it. the reason the outdoor retailer is leaving, their rejection of politic values is shown in the stubborn and pointless fight against bears ears national monument and should make this a turning point. in the 1960s, utah found itself at a confluence, one flow was fed by the collection of downtown chamber of commerce types who hatched a long-shot
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bid to obtain the winter olympics. they saw it as a chance to sell utah's greater snow on earth. it was the first time that utah took its outdoor tourism to the rest of the world. the other flow came from the fundamental change of the american people. we were waking up to the natural world and its treasures and its owner presence. in utah there was recognition that we held those treasures. a national park was created, a national monument and arches, capital relief were elevated to national parks and utahans united in their pride of our shared national eye con.s. -- icons. i'm sure the president also agrees with the concept being the home of the grand canyon. continuing to read from the
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editorial. where once we were a particular back water, we became known the worldover. were it not for those my nearing efforts -- pioneering efforts there will be no olympics, no sundance, no flattire festival, no $8.17 billion per year. losing the outdoor retailer over beers ears represents a reversal of a half century of progress in inviting the world to appreciate utah. we could be hawaii, and instead our leaders want us to be oklahoma. governor herbert, who has made economic development his reason for living, couldn't get a lucrative 20-year visitor to keep coming.
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the seeds of this failure were first shown by representative bishop and later by the governor and the five tribes coming together to protect their ancestral homes. instead of recognizing their significance, our leaders claimed that their 150 years of ranching took precedent over centuries ofian press -- indian presence in beers ears -- bear's ears and the tribe had no choice but to go to the president. the source that has given us leaders out of touch with their constituents, dismantling the bears ears was a slam dunk in the utah legislature, but it is an issue that every poll that utahans have shown that the monument was a tradeoff between fat energy jobs and low-paying tourist jobs. the bears ears monument may be
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with us forever and there is no bucket of goal waiting if it does go away. the presidential proclamation bent toward the same boundaries and management pursued in the public lands initiative. in that area, they look too much to the nation like a rejection of the legitimacy of not listening to native americans. the damage may not be over. what does the utah's sports industry have to look forward to? who do ogden base businesses have to look forward to. are we receding to back waters where our super majority is apparent only to ourselves? and we are bent on separating americans from the national identity instead of inviting them to share it. this isn't about 40 million.
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it's about who we are and where we are headed. to get there, we need leaders who are better -- who have a better appreciation of the magnificent gifts god has given to everyone, not just utahans, end quote. i'd like to enter that for the record, mr. president. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. cantwell: mr. president, i think the editorial puts this debate square in front of my colleagues. we have a nominee who has been all over the map as it relates to public lands and certainly on record that he will implement the president's strategy. i know he plans to visit this area and i'm so concerned it will be the first of many areas in which people run over the larger public and national interests to preserve public places just for immediate distraction when in reality the jobs from the outdoor economy are just as important and if you add up numbers, may be more
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important economically to both the near term and the long term. i should also note that those of us in washington would gladly welcome the outdoor retailers with open arms. i'm sure they will consider many different places but we understand protecting our most treasured places not only preserves them for this generation but for future generations, and it helps drive an economy. in utah, the outdoor recreation is responsible for $12 billion in consumer spending, more than twice the value of oil and gas produced in that state. so if we're talking about top dog economics, the outdoor industry wins. in washington state, the outdoor economy supports 227,000 direct-paying jobs and wages of $7.1 billion. nationwide it's 6.1 million jobs
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and $646 billion in revenues from outdoor recreation. so this is a very valued part of the u.s. economy. it is also a very valued part of the american spirit. not only do the bears ears monuments and others like it benefit county, state and federal coffers, they also offer shared access to our heritage and that spiritual connection to nature that is so valuable to all of us, but i hold so dear that our veterans cherish it should much, too. they deserve the relief of being able to go to our greatest and beautiful places and have some solace. a second major responsibility of the secretary is to manage the mineral resources on public lands and waters and one of the fundamental principles of those public resource management is that the american people should receive affair market value for
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the energy and minute ralgs -- minerals extracted from our public lands. these resources are owned by every american. i think sometimes people get confused that these are the rights of these industries, that they own them. we have allowed that extraction and the leasing of that extraction, but we need to make sure that the taxpayer interest and the cost and impact is well represented and that that extraction is done so in an efficient manner and that it protects the resource for the future and it also cleans up its mess and that polluters pay. an important principle is that our public lantsdzs -- lands be managed so that their use will not permanently harm the land or the environment and allowing companies to mine on public land must minimize the harm that they do, clean up the mess they make, repair and pay for the damage,
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and that polluters pay should be a basic principle. the secretary of interior must be committed to preserving and enforcing those important principles and to making sure that the taxpayer gets a fair deal. the previous secretary, as i said, secretary jewell, took important steps to advance those principles. on her watch the department issued its new stream protection rule. its methane venting and flaring rule, its mineral valuation rule, and comprehensive examination of its coal leasing program. most of these initiatives involve updating existing policies that have been in place for 20 or 30 years. that's just another way of saying that -- whether the taxpayer is getting a fair deal by you a log the companies to mine this federal resource has not really been evaluated for
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ten or 30 years so i'm sure that my colleagues could understand that that kind of updating should take place. during these two intervening and three decades, technology has improved and science has advanced. and we need to make sure that that technology recognizes that when pollution happens, it needs to be cleaned up. a tax on secretary jewell's public health and taxpayers initiatives is already under way. and i am concerned that congressman zinke will not stand up to make sure that the policies of polluter pays are followed and that the good work that has already been established is continued. at his congress fir nation hearing, congressman zinke stated, quote, the war on coal is real and that he supports lifting the coal leasing moratorium. this is contrary to the rational
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view of industry market dynamics and are the energy policies that our constituents expect. while coal federal leasing is of national concern, it is also critically important in my state. they want to make sure that taxpayers get a fair deal for the leasing of that land. and as people have discussed here on the floor, the advent of natural gas and its cheap value has done more to drive down the use of coal than any of this discussion about whether taxpayers are getting a fair deal. and finally, i'd like to mention that the secretary of interior must be committed to upholding our trust and treaty obligations for our country's 567 federally recognized tribes. that secretary must be committed to recognizing tribal sovereignty and self-determination, protecting tribal lands and waters and mineral resources, and supporting adequate resources for tribal education, social
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service and infrastructure. and as a congressman, mr. zinke has been a strong advocate of the crow tribes coal resource in his home state. and while i respect his responsibility to his district, he will be required as secretary of interior to have a much different position representing all tribes across the united states. now, i know that some of my colleagues think that you can be expedient on any of these issues, whether it is on the antiquities act or coal leasing or on making sure that we live up to tribal sovereignty. but in reality, it takes very little to sign an executive order. it takes a lot to overrule the law of the land. many of these issues will end up in court. many of them will be battled for several years. i would suggest to my colleagues that we find the common interest in preserving our stewardship, preserving our natural
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resources, and moving forward on continuing to develop this kind of economy moving forward. i'm not convinced that congressman zinke is going to show the leadership on these resources necessary given his very different views on public lands as a congressman on all sides of the issue. we need someone who is going to stand up just like those in utah did and say the outdoor economy is worth it. the designation of public lands as done by the president of the united states should be preserved and we should continue to fight for something that is providing so many jobs and so much great connection for so many americans. i thank the pre
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