Ryan Zinke got himself some positive press this past week for opposing mining in the Paradise Valley near Yellowstone Park. While taking a shot at southeast Montana, Zinke said he opposed the idea of mining near the park:
Ryan Zinke said there are good places to mine — “Have you ever been to Decker?” he asked — but not next to national parks.
That’s a surprisingly sensible position for Zinke to take—but, of course, one that also contradicts his position in the past. Back in 2014, when he was running for the House, he argued against the North Fork Watershed Protection Act, arguing that there was nothing wrong with mining there.
Then Representative Steve Daines (and everyone else involved) didn’t agree, with Daines saying back in 2014:
“The Flathead is considered a red-ribbon stream. That’s Montana’s version of a blue-ribbon trout stream. This watershed is the gateway to one of the crown jewels of the national park system – Glacier National Park.”
The bill, which cost taxpayers nothing, passed with bipartisan support, had the support of groups ranging from environmental organizations to Conoco Philips, but not Congressional candidate Ryan Zinke, who went so far as to attack his opponent John Lewis immediately after the primary for his support for protecting the North Fork.
Outside of the cabal of fringe Republicans who want to sell them off to the highest bidder, there are few ideas in American political life more popular than our national parks. That Representative Zinke would pretend to care about protecting them while he’s in his faux-Teddy Roosevelt Republican phase is politically sensible, but just unbelievable for anyone who has followed his career, a career that has involved voting for and against selling public lands on the same day.
The man just can’t tell the truth. And can’t be trusted to protect our national treasures like our national parks.