Energy Environment Missoula Ryan Zinke

Oh, the irony


Under some of the foulest skies I have ever witnessed in the Garden City, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke arrived at Missoula International Airport.

His government jet was parked a couple hundred yards from two refueling Neptune Aviation airtankers, having just returned from dumping their 3000 gallon payloads of fire retardant on the 34,184 acre Lolo Peak blaze.

About 30 protesters were there to greet Zinke, reminding him that public lands should stay in public hands and that, obviously, climate change is real.

The line of five Chevy Tahoes and Suburbans took a quick detour down the Frontage Road, avoiding the demonstration gathered on Highway 12 in front of the Smokejumper Center. Protesters were able to glimpse Zinke through his rolled-down window, smiling and waving back at them.

The Twitter photo below is of Zinke, Sen. Steve Daines, Rep. Greg Gianforte and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. They’re in Western Montana to view the many wildfires consuming thousands of acres of forests and grasslands, which is ironic since the new role of the Department of the Interior is to deny science, reduce public lands and expand fossil fuel extraction (and you can add undermining Indian sovereignty and slashing the budgets of the Forest Service and National Parks Service to the list).

You should be able to see Blue Mountain behind them but it’s obscured by smoke. Take a deep breath, guys.








UPDATE: In the good news, bad news department, like the surgeon who says you probably won’t die but he’ll have to amputate a few of your limbs, the Interior Department has announced that no National Monuments will be eliminated.

But there would be changes to a “handful,” he (Zinke) said… he declined to say whether portions of the monuments would be opened up to oil and gas drilling, mining, logging and other industries for which Trump has advocated.

So there’s that.

UPDATE II: Now the boys are blaming the fires on “environmental extremists.” I was up on Flathead Lake a few days ago and watched a fire burning above Blue Bay. This was in extremely steep terrain that would be close to impossible to thin or log, yet there was a fire approaching 500 acres, caused by lightning. Now I’m no fire scientist, but neither are they. Those who are have a different take than Zinke, Daines and Gianforte:

“There’s no reduction in wildfire from past logging. We haven’t seen it,” said Leon Neuenschwander, a fire ecologist who taught for 25 years at the University of Idaho.

Many experts say that by removing the largest and most fire-resistant trees and replacing them with dense young growth, conventional logging and tree planting practices helped create the conditions that stoke wildfires.

“Partial cutting done historically typically aggravated the fire hazard and made things worse when fire came along,” said C. Phillip Weatherspoon, an emeritus research forester with the Forest Service who has written extensively on fire.

Please quit pandering and work toward real solutions to these earlier, larger and more intense wildfires. Image below courtesy of MTPR.  

Enviro “extremists” to blame for big fires, say @SecretaryZinke, @SteveDaines, @GregForMontana #mtfire


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  • The “log it so it don’t burn” idiots don’t realize how much of the acreage burned this year has been clearcut recently. For just one example, many whole square miles of land to the NW of Lolo Peaks had been leveled by Plum Creek. Much land in the SE side of the Liberty fire up Gold Creek that is burning has been deforested. Much land in the Rice Ridge fire has been clearcut. The only way to prevent having forest fires is to eliminate forests. Clearcuts accelerate wildfires by allowing for an abundance of grass, weeds and brush to desiccate quickly in the sort of flash drought we are having this summer, and rapidly carry a fire to the forested area.

    And of course, with the politicos showing up in droves, we’ll have a bunch of misguided legislation to exempt salvage logging and “preventative clear cutting” from regulations. And attempts to reduce citizen input and lawsuits on the plans. And attempts to privatize, subsidize, and authorize mass logging plans across the west in the guise of “rehabilitation” or “forest health”.

    And I bet that Jon Tester will be there with the rest of the politicians using the forests as a ping-pong table to get endorsements, campaign contributions, and bills passed in a desperate attempt to get reelected. Look for a resurrection
    of his FJRA bill or reasonable facsimile thereof, pushed and fast tracked, only to be compromised and assimilated into some short-sighted republican attempt to “get out the cut” or “get rid of the land.”

  • Trump has sent his henchmen to Montana in search of—- MONEY! Greed is the driving force behind this scam.The fake science (“Log it so it won’t burn”) they are using is just another way for the wealthy to make money off of PUBLIC LANDS. These lands are owned by all Americans. Trump and Zinke should keep their greedy mitts off Native American sacred lands too. Zinke is nothing but a poser, and seeing Gianforte so eager to sell Montana out is typical for millionaire politicians who benefit from timber sales, oil exploration or just the power of selling out to benefit their wealthy pals/corporations. GOP voters- you will not see one dime from the the destruction of forests and wildlife habitat. Once these lands are gone, they are gone forever.

  • Montana’s and westerners must raise our strong voice against climate change deniers.These wildfires, hurricanes, tornados and new rain patterrns show a climate change tipping point. I believe in God but God is tasking US to be good stewards of Creation and, WE ARE FAILING.

  • What is known about the manifest and flight plan for Airforce 2 in the background? Were Daines, Gianforte, and Zinke passengers? Did the plane land in Bozeman for Gianforte’s photo op?

  • RE: “Oh, the irony”

    Isn’t it ironic that literally a few hours after Greg Gianforte referred to Montana citizens – and some of his constituents – who ensure the government follows the law when logging on our public lands as “environmental extremists”…..

    That Gianforte was literally photographed for his “mug-shot” and fingerprinted after he plead guilty to assaulting (ie “body-slamming”) a reporter on the eve of the Montana special election that put him in office?

    Of course Gianforte calling environmentalists ‘extremists’ takes a page right from the playbook of Senator Testser and Senator Daines, both of whom have also called environmentalists who fully participate in the public process for resource extraction on America’s public lands ‘extremists.”

    Oh, and Gianforte also followed Tester’s lead and completely lied about public lands logging lawsuits.

    In the Misosulian coverage of the In the Missoulian coverage of the dog-n-pony show with Zinke, Perdue, Daines and Gianforte it was reported that:

    “[Montana Congressman Greg] Gianforte said the federal Equal Access to Justice Act, which allows those who successfully sue the government to recover their legal costs, needed reform to reduce “frivolous lawsuits.”

    “It’s been hijacked by environmental extremists who use it to create a business model to shut down almost every forest management project here in the state,” Gianforte said. “Over 50 percent of planned forest management projects in the state are challenged in court, tied up, and ultimately they burn.”

    That “Over 50 percent of planned forest management projects in the state are challenged in court, tied up, and ultimately they burn” needs a very serious fact check. Will anyone in the Montana media rise up to the occasion?

    Readers will recall that the Washington Post’s famous Fact-Checker gave Senator Tester the maximum Four Pinocchios for telling two ‘whoppers’ of a lie about public lands logging lawsuits when Jon Tester claimed that “Unfortunately, every logging sale in Montana right now is under litigation. Every one of them.”


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Pete Talbot

'Papa’ Pete Talbot is first and foremost a grandfather to five wonderful grandchildren. Like many Montanans, he has held numerous jobs over the years: film and video producer, a partner in a marketing and advertising firm, a builder and a property manager. He’s served on local and statewide Democratic Party boards. Pete has also been blogging at various sites for over a decade. Ping-pong and skiing are his favorite diversions. He enjoys bourbon.

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