Thursday, June 22, 2017

Washington Notebook: Pearce asks Zinke to reduce monument by 88%

By Michael Coleman / Journal Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON – A day after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said he might not alter the size of two of New Mexico’s newest monuments, Rep. Steve Pearce implored him to dramatically shrink the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in his southern district. At a Senate hearing Wednesday, Zinke, who is reviewing more than two dozen national monuments for possible reductions in size, said he was open to keeping New Mexico’s newest monuments unchanged. “If it’s settled and people are happy with it, I find no reason to recommend any changes,” Zinke said. But at a House hearing to consider the Interior Department’s budget Thursday, Pearce said that’s not the case. He lifted up a stack of papers that he said contained the signatures of “800 businesses and individuals” who want to reduce the nearly 500,000-acre federally protected area by 88 percent, to 60,000 acres. “The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument is a very highly volatile issue in the district,” Pearce told the interior secretary. “Even when the Democrats owned the House and had a filibuster-proof Senate and Mr. Obama was in the White House, they still could not get this passed through law because it was so contentious.”  Pearce said he and those who signed the petition he gave to Zinke would like to see the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument be “not revoked, but taken back down to the smallest footprint.” New Mexico’s Democratic representatives in Congress support the monuments in their current configurations. Zinke, who is planning to visit New Mexico in two weeks and will make his recommendations on the monuments in August, did not comment on Pearce’s remarks at the hearing...more

No comments: