How Many is a Slew?

by Kathleen Sgamma, President on May 24, 2017 - 12:27pm

A few weeks ago, Western Energy Alliance met with Interior Secretary Zinke. It was a typical meeting between a new Interior Secretary and a stakeholder group. All types of stakeholders meet with Interior secretaries–ranching, mining, recreation, tribal, environmental, sportsmen, royalty owners, citizens and other types of groups.

Stakeholders have the right to meet with their government and provide input. Officials have a duty to meet with a variety of stakeholders to understand their concerns and the effects policies will have on citizens. They also have a duty to consider all types of viewpoints when making policy.

So it was with much amusement that I read a Washington Post article highlighting Western Energy Alliance’s and other industry meetings with Secretary Zinke. Aided by a sensational title “Interior Secretary’s personal schedule shows industry chiefs have frequent access,” the article is front loaded with a “slew” of meetings with our industry, including the American Petroleum Institute (API) and Western Energy Alliance.

How many is a slew? Six. Yes, the insinuation of special access is six meetings.

But what’s a slew of environmental group meetings? Two dozen, five dozen, a hundred? We don’t know, because WaPo didn’t bother to do a similar article in 2009 during the first few months when Secretary Ken Salazar took over. Even though environmental groups form a powerful lobby that influences or directly controls policy, it’s only nefarious when industry is the stakeholder in question.

Despite the sensational headline, the article, by environmental reporter Juliet Eilperin, actually goes on to cite meetings with the National Wildlife Federation, Nature Conservancy, Outdoor Industry Association, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, tribes, governors, sportsmen–in other words, it was actually a balanced schedule, despite the lede.

In fact the Nature Conservancy (TNC), a reasonable conservation group that actually does on-the-ground conservation work unlike the vast majority of environmental groups, is quoted describing its outreach to the Secretary. That prompted me to tweet out agreement with TNC (@nature_org):

To her credit, the reporter replied back that the paper should be looking at other Secretaries.

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