Poll On Interior Secretary Zinke’s Monument Review Released By Group Tied To Anti-Fossil Fuel Lobby, Soros
A Western environmental advocacy group with financial ties to the New Venture Fund (NVF), George Soros, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund released a poll attacking Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s not yet released monument review report, according to E&E News.
The NVF-backed Western Values Project commissioned the poll the week after Zinke hinted at recommendations to change or reduce a handful of national monuments after conducting a review of the federal holdings ordered by President Trump.
The poll was conducted by Global Strategy Group, a Democratic polling firm. NVF, an umbrella funder for anti-fossil fuel groups, has given money to 350.org, Oil Change International, Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and The Solutions Project.
A March Western Wire review of financial documents showed more than $3 million in NVF funds sent to the groups between 2013 and 2015.
Pollsters asked Montanans if the possible monument changes “could mean reducing their size and opening them up to drilling,” and whether or not they supported or opposed Zinke’s report. Fifty-seven percent said they opposed the Department of the Interior announcement to review national monument boundaries.
Last week, Zinke told the Associated Press no monuments will be eliminated outright.
In recent weeks, Zinke recommended no modifications to several national monuments under the current review, including Sand to Snow in California, Grand Canyon-Parashant in Arizona, Canyons of the Ancients in Colorado, and Upper Missouri River Breaks in Zinke’s home state of Montana.
“You can protect the monument by keeping public access to traditional uses,” Zinke told AP.
In a press call on Zinke’s announcement, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) said the White House needed to review the secretary’s recommendations and said a timetable for the report’s release was unknown.
Western Values Project followed up last week’s poll with a new six-figure ad buy targeting Zinke over the monument review in anticipation of the former congressman’s future political plans, according to Politico‘s Morning Energy.
The New Venture Fund has received more than $5.9 million from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund since 2007, and is run by Arabella Advisors. Arabella’s owner, Eric Kessler, formerly worked for the League of Conservation Voters and now chairs NVF.
But NVF and Western Values Project has received millions more from deep-pocketed donors beyond the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.George Soros’ Foundation to Promote Open Society has also contributed nearly $5.9 million to NVF in recent years, a June 2017 review by Western Wire showed.
Western Values Project’s funders and deep financial ties to anti-fossil fuel lobbying groups were not disclosed in the E&E News report, which simply labeled the Montana-based organization a “watchdog group.”
Interior Department press secretary Heather Swift called the poll questions “misleading” and said the poll itself “lead respondents to the conclusion that the group who paid for the poll wants,” she told E&E News.
Western Values Project opposed the repeal of the Bureau of Land Management’s methane rule. A fellow NVF grant recipient, the Soros-backed Hispanic Access Foundation, targeted Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) for their votes on taking up debate on the rule in May.
LCV called members of the Congressional Western Caucus who supported the monument review “anti-public lands.”Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Wester Caucus, told Western Wire the attacks were “false.”
Western Values Project’s fellow NVF-backed anti-fossil fuel groups spearheaded the “keep it in the ground” movement, according to a March 2017 Western Wire report.
In addition, Arabella, NVF, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the other members of the environmental lobby have also pushed for campus divestment and against the Keystone XL pipeline project.