Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke addressed the meeting of the Western Governor’s Association today at Mount Rushmore.  But his welcome was less than warm.  

As Secretary Zinke made his remarks before the western Governors, he listed what he believes are the accomplishments of the Trump administration during its first year in office.  But he got a negative reaction from some members of the crowd when he mentioned oil and gas production.

“We will be the number one producer of oil and gas in this country.  You know…being rude. The thing about America is this.  We all have different opinions, but it’s never good to be rude,” Zinke said. 

Meanwhile, in Rapid City, groups including the Clean Water Alliance, Dakota Rural Action, the Sierra Club, and Democracy in Action, marched in protest through downtown.  The marchers were specifically targeting Secretary Zinke who, they say, has taken the Interior Department in a new direction, away from responsible land stewardship. 

Cheryl Rowe, with Dakota Rural Action, says Zinke has spent his first year in office selling off oil and gas rights to public lands. 

“So we don’t have the protections.  They’re trying to take away our input,” Rowe said. 

John Wrede, a former wildlife specialist with the Park Service and the South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks Department, said the frustrating part of Zinke’s policies is that they are intended not to sustain the land, but for an entirely different purpose.

“To advance the economics of industries that don’t need economic advantage,” Wrede said. 

The march was followed by a rally at Memorial Park in Rapid City.