Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke criticized a 2015 presidential memorandum for stunting job growth and industry on federal lands at a Montana Western Governors Association conference Tuesday.
The memo, signed by former President Barack Obama, requires federal agencies to “minimize harmful effects to land, water, wildlife, and other ecological resources” from any development opportunities taken or sanctioned by the agency. In effect, the policy forces private companies to invest funds in conservation programs equal to the environmental cost of developing public land.
The Department of the Interior (DOI) will prioritize federal land development over conservation, Zinke said.
“Jobs matter. There’s a social cost of not having jobs. And we love environmental regulations fair and equitable, but it takes wealth to make sure that we can maintain those regulations and improve,” Zinke said at the conference, according to the Associated Press.
The DOI is reviewing its enforcement of the Obama memorandum specifically, the AP reported.
“Some people would call it extortion. I call it un-American,” Zinke said of the memo.
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