Erik Molvar, Executive Director, Western Watersheds Project, (307) 399-7910
McMorris Rodgers pick for Interior Secretary Raises Major Environmental Red Flags
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today’s announcement that President-elect Donald Trump may tap Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) to lead the Department of the Interior has fed conservationists’ concerns that the next administration is likely to be hostile to environmental protection and public lands. Rep. McMorris Rodgers’ track record includes legislative attempts to undermine the recovery gray wolves in Washington, to force the sale of over 3 million acres of federal public lands to private interests, and to push logging on national forests at the expense of healthy forests and wildlife habitat. She voted against bills that seek to mitigate climate change and voted to pass bills that would expand offshore drilling in sensitive areas.
Rep. McMorris Rodgers co-sponsored an extreme and controversial policy rider on a Defense spending bill that would have given states the option to take over any decision involving sage grouse on federal lands, bypassing federal environmental protection laws. The rider was ultimately stripped out of the Defense bill at the eleventh hour.
“Certain western state governments have been among the most entrenched opponents of increasing sage grouse protections,” said Erik Molvar, executive director of Western Watersheds Project. “Virtually every decision on federal public lands involves sage grouse, and this sneaky rider would turn over control of millions of acres of public lands to state governments that work to maximize industrial exploitation and corporate profiteering at the expense of healthy lands and wildlife.”
“Her efforts to remove wolves from the protections of the Endangered Species Act raises serious red flags and bodes ill for the future of the ESA and our natural heritage,” said Erik Molvar, Executive Director of Western Watersheds Project. “When President Nixon signed the Endangered Species into law, the Act wisely required that decisions on adding or removing protections for species on the brink of extinction be made solely on the basis of science without political meddling. If Rep. McMorris Rodgers were to be placed in charge of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, we have serious concerns that her previous preference for playing politics with rare and imperiled species would trump legal requirements to follow the law and make endangered species decisions solely based on science.”
McMorris Rodgers has also been a major backer of hydropower dams that are driving populations of salmon and steelhead extinct in the Columbia River Basin.
“Rep. McMorris Rodgers’ voting record favors extractive industries at the expense of public lands and wildlife,” said Molvar. “She’s been an opponent of progressive environmental change and misunderstands the science of climate change. This is an anti-environmental pick at a crucial time for the fate of the planet.”