McMorris Rodgers pick for Interior Secretary Raises Major Environmental Red Flags

Contact: Erik Molvar, Executive Director, Western Watersheds Project, (307) 399-7910

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today’s announcement that President-elect Donald Trump may tap Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) to lead the Department of the Interior has fed conservationists’ concerns that the next administration is likely to be hostile to environmental protection and public lands. Rep. McMorris Rodgers’ track record includes legislative attempts to undermine the recovery gray wolves in Washington, to force the sale of over 3 million acres of federal public lands to private interests, and to push logging on national forests at the expense of healthy forests and wildlife habitat. She voted against bills that seek to mitigate climate change and voted to pass bills that would expand offshore drilling in sensitive areas.

Rep. McMorris Rodgers co-sponsored an extreme and controversial policy rider on a Defense spending bill that would have given states the option to take over any decision involving sage grouse on federal lands, bypassing federal environmental protection laws. The rider was ultimately stripped out of the Defense bill at the eleventh hour.

“Certain western state governments have been among the most entrenched opponents of increasing sage grouse protections,” said Erik Molvar, executive director of Western Watersheds Project. “Virtually every decision on federal public lands involves sage grouse, and this sneaky rider would turn over control of millions of acres of public lands to state governments that work to maximize industrial exploitation and corporate profiteering at the expense of healthy lands and wildlife.”

In 2016, Rep. McMorris Rodgers was a backer of a policy rider to remove the protections of the Endangered Species Act from wolves nationwide.

“Her efforts to remove wolves from the protections of the Endangered Species Act raises serious red flags and bodes ill for the future of the ESA and our natural heritage,” said Erik Molvar, Executive Director of Western Watersheds Project. “When President Nixon signed the Endangered Species into law, the Act wisely required that decisions on adding or removing protections for species on the brink of extinction be made solely on the basis of science without political meddling. If Rep. McMorris Rodgers were to be placed in charge of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, we have serious concerns that her previous preference for playing politics with rare and imperiled species would trump legal requirements to follow the law and make endangered species decisions solely based on science.”

McMorris Rodgers has also been a major backer of hydropower dams that are driving populations of salmon and steelhead extinct in the Columbia River Basin.

“Rep. McMorris Rodgers’ voting record favors extractive industries at the expense of public lands and wildlife,” said Molvar. “She’s been an opponent of progressive environmental change and misunderstands the science of climate change. This is an anti-environmental pick at a crucial time for the fate of the planet.”

About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

36 Responses to Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Trump’s Interior Pick

  1. Moose says:

    McMorris Rodgers for Interior

    Pruitt for EPA

    De Vos for Education

    Would love to hear from those here who believed there was no difference between electing Trump and Hillary.

    • Immer Treue says:


    • JEFF E says:

      even more concerning to me is the orange dingle berry pnchant for gathering generals around him, while at the same time almost totally skipping the full inelegance briefings that are offered to him.
      Methinks something stinks in Washington and it is not just this useless dingle berry.

  2. Scarlet says:

    I keep reading of one Trump proposed appointment after another – None of them good with the only qualification seeming to be some degree of personal wealth and a large degree of animosity to the mission of the department they would be heading.
    What I don’t read and I don’t see is a course of action – What do we do? There has to be a way to stop this. I have zero faith in the electors doing anything so it’s sort of up to us – But I have yet to read of any coordinated plan. Has anyone else heard of anything?

  3. JEFF E says:


  4. Nancy says:

    Donald Trump goes on a fact-finding visit to Israel. While he is on a tour of Jerusalem he suffers a heart attack and dies.

    The undertaker tells the American Diplomats accompanying him, ‘You can have him shipped home for $50,000, or you can bury him here, in the Holy Land for just $100.’

    The American Diplomats go into a corner and discuss for a few minutes. They come back to the undertaker and tell him they want Donald shipped home.

    The undertaker is puzzled and asks, ‘Why would you spend $50,000 to ship him home, when it would be wonderful to be buried here and you would
    spend only $100?
    With the money you save you could help pay back some of the deficit, help the homeless or help the elderly’.

    The American Diplomats replied,

    ‘Long ago a man died here, was buried here, and three days later he rose from the dead. We just can’t take the risk.’

    Little humor to end my evening 🙂

    • JEFF E says:

      I was deciding to go with the term “orange anus”, a la Rosie O’Donnell, but after thinking about it I realized that an anus performs a necessary, albeit distasteful function, where as a dingle berry has no useful purpose at all, meanwhile stinking up what ever it touches; so henceforth “the orange dingle berry”…..

  5. Yvette says:

    McMorris Rodgers for Interior

    Pruitt for EPA

    De Vos for Education

    Would love to hear from those here who believed there was no difference between electing Trump and Hillary.


    Now add a plumber (business owner) named Markwayne Mullin (OK state representative, District #2) to the list. Markwayne Mullin is a ‘card carrying’ Cherokee who wants to privatize all Indian lands. Indian lands are federal lands. It’s all about not being forced to comply with environmental regulations like NEPA, (in his words) and easing all regulations.

    “One twig is weak and easily broken. A bundle of twigs is strong. ~ Tecumseh

    ^^^^ I thought of that often watching Standing Rock early on. We tribes rarely unite. It has always been our downfall. Tecumseh saw this long before manifest destiny. I thought Tecumseh would have been proud to see the unification of tribes at Standing Rock. Then the multi-tribal effort united with non-tribal allies, even international allies. <<<< This is what is will take to minimize the damage coming.

    In wetlands language, Avoid, Minimize, Mitigate. We didn't avoid the disaster so we must minimize and mitigate. To do that we must find a way to unify. You witnessed what a peaceful unification is like if you followed #NoDAPL Standing Rock.

    We must try. I may lose but I won't lose without fighting.

    • Leslie Patten says:

      Yvette, I did read about this, but although these are federal lands, these are sovereign nations governed by treaty with the U.S. Can you enlighten me how easy/hard this really would be?

  6. Humans are so human-centered in every thought. With 2/3 of the wildlife destroyed on planet earth by our gluttony, breeding, breeding slaughterhouse animals and destroying the climate ( mostly with slaughterhouse production and dirty fuels) – with 60% of large mammals on earth threatened with extinction NOW – we will not live on a dead planet. It will not take 20 years to destroy the last of non-human life on earth and in the oceans – they are at tipping point of collapse. I thought I would not live to see the war, billions of people starving – but I may – and I am surely glad I am not a child with adults so ignorant. We cannot continue to treat life on earth as our hunting/trapping/trophy slaughterhouse. We will not escape our mass extinction. We are expendable – but the rest of life is not.

    • Mat-ters says:

      Patricia, You sound like Mr Suewers back in Environmental Education from the mid to late 70s…. He also told us the sky was falling, the earth was cooling and we would be completely out of oil soon. But, here we are in 2016 where the environment rivers and stream ARE cleaner then they were, the earth does not have massive glaciers & Oil is so abundant the “dirty rich oil barons” are cutting price. I fear your unyielding rhetoric is going to create another mass extinction…those supporting your far left ideologies.

    • Ida Lupine says:


      So true, it’s difficult to have hope for the future when humans have destroyed and taken so much already. It’s irritating to keep hearing how much alternative energy is going to be a cure-all, when we’ve destroyed most of everything already. But always with the caveat that we won’t stop using fossil fuels overnight). Well, it’s going to be the longest night ever, because we won’t stop until every last drop is gone.

      I read something the other day concerning the talks between Donald Trump and Al Gore. The author said something to the effect of ‘climate change brought on by human activities is going to jeopardize our way of life’. Sorry, but ‘our way of life’ is what is causing climate change. I don’t think people get it, or want to get it. We’re going to have to make dramatic changes in how we live, and we haven’t even really gotten started. Pickups and SUVs are still the top selling cars.

      Even if we suddenly could stop all of our offending activities ‘overnight’, it will still take many, many years to reverse what we’ve done, from what I have read. We’d basically be treading water.

      I never thought I would see all of this in my own lifetime.

  7. Leslie Patten says:

    It is difficult to look for a silver lining in his cabinet picks, but if I might, then here are some. Different than the traditional GOP who hides their agenda and implements it with a slow drip so people never realize what they’ve lost (AKA let’s move the ACA change to 3 years after the next election cycle), the Donald is bombastic and says his intentions loud and clear with his cabinet. The GOP is now cheering his cabinet picks as fantastic. Thus they are now exposed. Donald Trump now represents the entire GOP and their mission is clear.

    Second, maybe this is a clarion call to action and we will see many many people shouting out loudly, and other actions like we had at Standing Rock, just because Trump is so extreme.

    • Ida Lupine says:

      Different than the traditional GOP who hides their agenda and implements it with a slow drip so people never realize what they’ve lost.

      Democrats do/did this also – which is why I had originally held out hope, or tried to look for a silver lining also. The whole Democratic campaign was this way.

      • Ida Lupine says:

        Or I should say, it is a quality of politicians in general; some worse than others of course.

      • jon says:

        I find that many democrats are cowards who don’t wanna fight. The GOP on the other hand have no problems obstructing and playing dirty. Most if not all of Trump’s cabinet picks are hacks with zero experience in the jobs they are being offered by that criminal and pathological liar Trump. Trump lied and pretended he was for the middle class, but he is hiring all millionaires to be in his cabinet.

  8. HoofHugs says:

    Most all my research using government documents from the GAO to the DOI/BLM, FWS, NPS, and NGO’s such the IUCN, TNC, SC, UCS, FAO, USDA/APHIS have been terrifically flawed. What is more, they also fail to include the type of citations or the use of those scientists that are truly experts in their fields.

  9. N Mccormish says:

    I thought this worthy of sharing as we all try to gird up for the “known unknowns” which lie ahead. The words are those of David Whyte.

    “These hidden and unspoken dynamics can break through to the controlled surface in difficult and destructive ways if held down through too many seasons of an individual or societal life, desolating and destroying any firmly held views of what we thought was good, right and true. It is the adolescent’s way of making changes, breaking the surface lock through trauma, drama and disappointment, but an adolescent dynamic we all can carry through into our mature years if we do not learn to speak from what Wordsworth called, “A dark invisible workmanship, that reconciles discordant elements and makes them move in one society.”

    In many ways the last election represents this adolescent breaking through of hidden unspoken forces through a locked and repressive exterior form. The gridlock was not just in Congress, but in the whole bankrupt almost oligarchical political process that had served its time, and the way all of us have been sustaining the lock though our self-referencing communities of mutual agreement. The representative who has ridden the wave of those forces to the presidency may exhibit many of the characteristics of an adolescent himself, but the forces and necessary conversations his emergence represents are no less real and are something any mature mind should consider. His emergence points toward a chaotic turbulence followed by a new order, an order we need to be extremely vigilant in helping to shape no matter whether we have called our selves liberal or conservative or something in between. One thing is certain, those who elected him will be just as disappointed and sometimes horrified as those who now oppose him, while those who voted against him will be surprised and sometimes a little disorientated by the dismantling of previous imprisoning norms they are glad to see gone. 

    None of us know what lies ahead, we could be in for four bumpy, very disturbing but at times, strangely gratifying years, we could also be seeing the attempted rise of Fascism in America, with all its disdain and oppression of individual rights and the rights of minority communities. This is a crucial threshold that requires all of us to be in the conversation, all of us to be just half a shade braver, half a shade more willing to meet the ‘other’ in our societies, including a previously middle American society that now itself feels marginalized; half a shade more willing to speak from emerging uncertainties into public forums, rather within our familiar communities of locked-in demands and dogma.

    American or not, no matter where we live, we are all on this planet tending to live and converse in our own self-reinforcing echo chambers on all sides of the political equation, we all act as if our version of the future is the only one that should prevail. Dominated by the very gadgets and social media platforms that are supposed to facilitate communication, none us have been having a real conversation. Otherwise we should not have been so surprised, as we were on both sides, by this result.

  10. Nancy says:

    “The larger the mob, the harder the test. In small areas, before small electorates, a first-rate man occasionally fights his way through, carrying even the mob with him by force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second and third hand, and the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most easily adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum.

    The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron”

    H. L. Mencken – 1920

  11. Kyle says:

    Seems McMorris is not the choice – Ryan Zinke of MT.

    Given the general tenor of things, does it really make a difference who is chosen as the head of Interior? The tide is definitely moving in one direction.

    • Ida Lupine says:

      McMorris Rodgers is the author of a bill that would have directed the Department of the Interior to sell off federal lands in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming.>/I>

      There’s a slight difference between them in that she appears more inclined to sell off the public lands, and creating national monuments. Zinke is on record about wanting to keep the public lands public, and directly opposing those who do otherwise (such as Don Young). Another big oil proponent, she voted for drilling in ANWR. I wonder if President Obama and the Interior Department will do anything before they leave office to preserve ANWR? I think I woke up worried about that one morning. We’ll see what actually happens.

      I had a disappointing feeling that what would ultimately protect public lands now would be hunting and outdoor ‘recreation’.

  12. Kyle says:

    And more on Zinke:

    “If Ryan Zinke was running for Congress in 2010, he’d have my support. Because in 2010 he was unafraid to put leadership before politics,” Steve Thompson, president of Whitefish, Montana-based Climate Realty LLC, wrote in the letter. “Sadly the opposite is now true. I now regard Zinke to be an unprincipled, self-glorifying, dangerously cynical phony.”

  13. Kyle says:

    A good article about Zinke originally from High Country News.

    Hint: Zinke is no Ted Roosevelt

  14. Kyle says:

    Not only is Zinke no Roosevelt, the road is being quietly paved for a major change:

    “cost-free and budget neutral”? Your basic scam!

    • Ida Lupine says:

      I don’t see what the point of it is, or how they could enforce such a thing, for the states either. So, if there was a federal parcel of land that had oil deposits or minerals, the Federal government isn’t supposed to take that into consideration? What about the needs of the people of the country? I don’t see how this can stand.

      I was reading some of the other articles in the link you provided – a shocking one is a plan to bury nuclear waste near Lake Huron!

      We do not only destructive things to the environment, but the worst things possible! I also don’t know what to say about the burning of wood pellets. Bad enough on its own, but with climate change even worse. I remember watching the National Parks documentary on PBS where the southeastern forests in the US were devastated by clearcutting and had to be protected.

      It’s like we haven’t learned a thing from the past.


December 2016


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey