The controversy over President Trump’s decision to shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments seems to be only getting started. Three separate lawsuits were immediately filed, claiming the decision to be illegal. But the lawsuit spearheaded by Patagonia seems to have made the most noise.
— Patagonia (@patagonia) December 4, 2017
Quickly after the decision was announced at a speech made on the Capitol Steps in Utah by President Trump, Patagonia put resources on their website supporting their stance. It most notably included the tagline, “The President Stole Your Land” at the top of the page.
Four days later the Twitter account for the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources tweeted an image with similar white font on a black background that said, “Patagonia Is Lying To You.”
— Natural Resources (@NatResources) December 8, 2017
Conservationists, environmental groups and media quickly brought attention to this decision for a House Committee to speak out on Twitter. As of the writing of this story, 4,826 replies have been made to the post with a majority calling the Committee out for attacking a private business. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke also retweeted the tweet.
The Committee is chaired by Utah Congressman Rob Bishop, who has been outspoken against Bears Ears gaining a national monument designation from the start, and has also not been shy about wanting federal public lands to be open to economic, oil, mining and natural gas development.
Patagonia did not engage with, nor acknowledge, the social media attack. On Dec. 15 the Committee tweeted out a letter penned by Bishop asking Patagonia to “testify before the Committee about your views on public land management.”
This led to Patagonia on Tuesday releasing a letter penned by founder Yvon Chouinard in response.
— Patagonia (@patagonia) December 19, 2017
Chouinard, who has let it be publicly known that he does not agree with this administrations treatment of public lands, did not hold back in telling he declined the Congressman’s invitation:
“It is clear the House Committee on Natural Resources, like many committees in this failed Orwellian government, is shackled to special interests of oil, gas, and mining and will seek to sell off our public lands at every turn and continue to weaken and denigrate Theodore Roosevelt's Antiquities Act, which has preserved our treasured public lands for over 100 years.”
It remains to be seen what will happen next as a private company and legislators explicitly go toe-to-toe over public land management. But, it seems that this battle may be far from over.
Read more stories about national monuments from ASN