Daines’ Abysmal Conservation Record Has Undermined “The LWCF’s Goals and Work Against Public Access On Public Lands” [Outside] 

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Daines’ Abysmal Conservation Record Has Undermined “The LWCF’s Goals and Work Against Public Access On Public Lands” [Outside] 
Helena, MT – This weekend, Outside published a story highlighting Senator Steve Daines’ phony support for public lands, including his backing of appointees William Perry Pendley as Director of the Bureau of Land Management and Scott Pruitt as EPA Administrator. 

The story notes that while Daines tries to take a victory lap around the Great American Outdoors Act his “votes and actions have combined to undermine the LWCF’s goals and work against public access on public lands, threaten ecosystem conservation in Montana and across the country, and may worsen the effects of climate change.” 

Outside: The Republicans Who Really Want to Seem Outdoorsy

By: Wes Siler 

Highlights: 

“Consider this a gift from McConnell to Daines, as well as Colorado senator Cory Gardner, who are both up for reelection this year,” writes Montana news station KTVQ on the passage of the GAOA. “Both senators, who are considered vulnerable and crucial to McConnell’s plans of keeping control of the Senate, plan to campaign off passing the legislation.”

The 116th Congress has sent hundreds of bills to the Senate during its current session, the vast majority of which Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has simply chosen to block. Neither McConnell nor President Trump have demonstrated much interest in other pro-environment, pro-public-lands policy. So why did McConnell allow the GAOA to come to a vote, and why did Trump sign it into law? All signs point to it being a ploy to aid vulnerable GOP senators during a difficult election year for them. 

And Daines, a Republican senator for Montana, is already campaigning on the GAOA’s success, calling it “one of the most important conservation bills not in years, but in decades.”

The thing is, while Daines has championed the GAOA, his other votes and actions have combined to undermine the LWCF’s goals and work against public access on public lands, threaten ecosystem conservation in Montana and across the country, and may worsen the effects of climate change. 

Notably, Daines supports the nomination of William Perry Pendley to run the BLM. That agency oversees one-tenth of our nation’s landmass, yet Pendley—who has written several openly racist and homophobic op-eds—has been working toward the sale of those lands since at least the early 1980s. 

And Pendley isn’t the only unsavory character Daines supports. 

“I know Scott Pruitt will use sound science in his decisions as EPA administrator,” Daines stated when he voted to confirm Pruitt to that position in 2017. Pruitt was forced to resign less than a year later amid a dozen ethics investigations into a variety of scandals that included science denial. 

Daines also voted to confirm Daniel Jorjani as DOI solicitor general, even though Jorjani was the subject of an ongoing ethics investigation by the DOI solicitor general’s office and has been accused of lying to Congress. 

Daines has also voted for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; to block public input in BLM decision-making; in favor of gutting the Antiquities Act; to sell off public lands, including wildlife refuges, wilderness areas, national forests, national monuments, and national memorials; and in 2015, he even voted against an act that would have funded the LWCF. The League of Conservation Voters gives Daines a 6 percent lifetime score, meaning he’s voted against conservation initiatives 94 percent of the time. 

How does Daines prefer to do his performative outdoorsiness? Two years ago, his staff pitched me to write a profile of Daines, suggesting I focus my questions around a recent backpacking trip he’d taken through a wilderness area here in Montana, where I live—a wilderness area that would have been threatened by the senator’s vote to sell off such lands. I insisted on asking questions about that, at which point they stopped returning my calls.”

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