Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

fire zinke protest

Activists with Friends of the Earth gathered outside the Interior Department headquarters in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday to demand the ouster of Secretary Ryan Zinke. (Photo: @foe_us/Twitter)

Activists Declare #FireZinke and State AGs File Suit After Interior Dept Guts Methane Rules for Public Lands

"Ryan Zinke has wasted tax dollars on private jets, has entered into a shady deal with an oil exec, and is dead set on handing our public lands over to corporate polluters."

Jessica Corbett

After the Interior Department on Tuesday gutted Obama-era regulations requiring fossil fuel companies to curb methane emissions and take certain safety precautions to prevent leaks on public lands, a pair of state attorneys general filed suit and protesters gathered outside the department's Washington, D.C. headquarters to demand the ouster of Secretary Ryan Zinke.

Activists with the advocacy group Friends of the Earth (FOE) marked Public Lands Day on Wednesday with the D.C. demonstration to remind Zinke and the rest of the Trump administration "that Americans want to protect our public lands and waters, not see them decimated by the fossil fuel industry." The group warned on Twitter, "If we don't make our voices heard, oil and gas drilling, fracking, and mining could scar our public lands forever."

Through #FireZinke signs, chants, and social media posts, the demonstrators highlighted the secretary's mounting scandals and moves to turn over public lands to polluting industries.

The protest came a day after the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) finalized its repeal of the Obama-era regulations and unveiled the administration's revised rule (pdf) that, as Common Dreams reported, "dramatically rolls back restrictions on methane emissions, which are a major driver of the climate crisis." Experts warned the new rule enables "fossil fuel extractors to pollute with impunity."

In response, two state attorneys general—Xavier Becerra of California and Hector Balderas of New Mexico—and the California Air Resources Board filed a lawsuit (pdf) in federal court Tuesday. The suit charges that Zinke and the department "acted arbitrarily, capriciously, contrary to law, abused their discretion, and failed to follow the procedure required by law" when repealing and replacing the Obama-era rule.

"With this attempt to axe the Waste Prevention Rule, the Trump administration risks the air our children breathe and at taxpayers' expense," Becerra said in a statement. "We've sued the administration before over the illegal delay and suspension of this rule and will continue doing everything in our power to hold them accountable for the sake of our people and planet."

Zinke, meanwhile, continued to stoke his cozy relationship with polluters on Tuesday. Speaking at the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association fall meeting, the secretary said the government should work for the fossil fuel industry, according to a tweet from the trade group.

"It doesn't get more blatant than this," responded FOE. "Zinke thinks our public lands & waters belong to Big Oil, not Americans. "


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'This Is Big': House Passes Amendment to Cut US Complicity in Saudi Bombing of Yemen

The vote, said Rep. Ro Khanna, "sent a clear message to the Saudis: end the bombing in Yemen and lift the blockade."

Andrea Germanos ·


Praised for 'Braving the Smears,' Tlaib Votes Against $1 Billion in Military Aid to Israel

One rights group thanked Tlaib "for speaking truth to power" while being attacked "for simply insisting that Palestinians are human beings who deserve safety, security, and freedom from Israeli apartheid."

Brett Wilkins ·


'A Choice Point for Humanity': Women Demand Visionary Shift at UN Climate Talks

"This is the time to unite together to build the healthy and just future we know is possible for each other and the Earth."

Julia Conley ·


'Hold Strong': Coalition Urges House to Reject Bipartisan Bill Until Reconciliation Package Passed

The bipartisan infrastructure bill "doesn't contain the climate solutions and care, education, and economic investments we need," more than 90 progressive groups wrote in a letter.

Kenny Stancil ·


New Legal Campaign Aims to Protect People and Nature From Polluters' 'Irreparable Damage'

"States must listen to communities' demands to recognize the human right to a healthy environment and better regulate businesses with respect to the impacts of their operations."

Jessica Corbett ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo