action opportunities, Goodlatte

Monday 5/15 Action Opportunities

EVENT TOMORROW — Goodlatte Open Door Meeting, Waynesboro Library (600 S. Wayne St.) 11:30 – 1:00. Goodlatte’s staff will be on hand to hear our issues and concerns. Please come out and help us fill the room! If you can’t make the meeting in the middle of the day, you can email us your comments at indivisiblestaunton@gmail.com and we’ll pass them on.

1. Yesterday was Mother’s Day, when many of us showed appreciation for mothers. Today, let’s  do the same thing for Mother Earth. This is a long one — but it’s well worth your while to read in full. It’s also time-sensitive, so please take note! On April 26th, Trump signed an Executive Order directing the Department of the Interior to review 27 national monuments which are federally protected under the Antiquities Act of 1906. These iconic American landmarks include Bears Ears (UT), Giant Sequoia (CA), the Mojave Trails (CA), and Grand Canyon-Parashant (AZ). For a full list of national monuments under review, click here.

Both Trump and Secretary of the Interior Zinke support economic development on federally protected lands, which would devastate the ecosystems as well as tourism from hikers, hunters, fishers, and sightseers who bring revenue to those states. Field and Stream scathingly reports, “Secretary Zinke, interestingly enough, has called himself a ‘Teddy Roosevelt guy’ and expressed great admiration for the hunter-president. It’s fascinating, then, that he is now carrying out orders to potentially undo one of Roosevelt’s hallmark pieces of legislation and to strip protections from lands it was designed to conserve” (source and full article here). Many of these sites also have great cultural significance to Native Americans and should be federally protected. 

The DOI is holding an open public comment period. Right now, comments stand at a measly ~7,300. Let’s get those numbers up, shall we?

  • Visit this link to comment on the DOI’s review of our national monuments. Click the dark blue “Comment Now” button to post your comment. 
  • Share that link across social media with a request for your friends and family to leave comments in support of preserving our national monuments.
  • Suggested comment ideas: “I am commenting to urge the DOI to retain federal protections for the 27 national monuments under review because…”
    • They are culturally significant to Native Americans (more on that topic here)
    • It would be too much of a financial burden on states to maintain these national monuments without federal protection and assistance
    • Our national monuments are an iconic part of the American landscape and identity
    • Economic development of these monuments would hurt recreation and tourism
    • You have a persional story about one of the monuments
    • …or all of these talking points, or more!

2. Sec. of the Interior Ryan Zinke is not holding any public meetings on the national monument review, and the open comment period is suspiciously short — it runs only 15 days. Furthermore, when pressed about the accessibility of the online open comment period, Zinke said that everyone can access the internet. When others pointed out that many Native families don’t have internet access, Zinke blithely continued to claim that everybody had internet access. This is blatantly untrue and shows Zinke’s lack of concern for both accessibility and populations which would be most affected by the DOI’s review. Furthermore, the 15-day written comment period gives communities little time to organize, and is also biased against those whose primary language is not English.

Join Senator Martin Heinrich in calling for Zinke to extend the public comment period and hold public meetings about this issue. (Read Heinrich’s full letter to Zinke here.)

  • Phone, with employee directory: (202) 208-3100
  • Mailing address: Ryan Zinke, Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street, N.W., Washington DC 20240
  • Email address: feedback@ios.doi.gov 
  • Suggested script: “Hello, my name is ______ and I am contacting Secretary Zinke today to express my deep concern over the short open comment period and lack of public meetings for the national monument review. A 15-day period is not sufficient time to receive comments from the public, and gives communities which would be affected little time to organize a response. Furthermore, the lack of public meetings disadvantages people without internet access, including poor people and many Native communities who do not have easy access to internet. Others have pointed out that this comment process is biased against people who come from an oral tradition or who do not use English as their main language or at all — such as many Native communities which the review would affect. In the interest of making this process fair and public, I urge Secretary Zinke to extend the open comment period and hold public meetings on the subject. Thank you.”

Ask Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner and Representative Goodlatte to join Senator Heinrich in sending Zinke a formal request to extend the open comment period and hold public meetings. 

  • Kaine: Washington DC: 202–224–4024, Manasses 703–361–3192, Roanoke 540–682–5693, Virginia Beach 757–518–1674, Richmond 804–771–2221, Abingdon 276–525–4790, Danville 434-792–0976, and his contact form is here.
  • Warner: Washington DC 202-224-2023, Roanoke 540-857-2676, Abingdon 276-628-8158, Norfolk 757-441-3079, Richmond 804-775-2314, Vienna 703-442-0670. His submit comment form is here.
  • Goodlatte: Staunton (540) 885-3861, Harrisonburg (540) 432-2391, Lynchburg (434) 845-8306, Roanoke (540) 857-2672, Washington DC 202-225-5431 and his email form is here.
  • Suggested script: “Hello, my name is ______ and my zip code is ______. I am contacting [NAME] today to ask him to join Senator Martin Heinrich in calling for an extension of the 15-day public open comment period on the review of our national monuments. This review will impact 27 monuments across multiple states, and the public should be given far longer than 15 days to weigh in. Additionally, Secretary Zinke must hold public meetings for this to remain truly open to the public. Currently, the written comment process is not accessible to people who would be most affected by the review. If I may quote from Senator Heinrich’s letter to Zinke, he says, ‘Across vast reaches of the Navajo Nation, even cell service is hard to come by. Moreover, cultural and historical practices bias a written comment process against those who come from an oral tradition. […] A respectful engagement process with tribal communities would include opportunities for public discussion and oral comment.’ I urge [NAME] to insist on an extension of the written comment period as well as public meetings to hear from people on the topic. The current process seems designed to be both rushed and biased against Native Americans. In the interest of democracy and keeping public issues truly public, please call on Zinke to change this process to take into account the complexities of the issue. Thank you.”

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