WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House natural resources committee chairman on Friday invited outdoor retailer Patagonia’s CEO to testify before the panel after the company criticized the Trump administration’s decision to drastically reduce two national monuments in Utah.
Chairman Rob Bishop, a Utah Republican, sent a letter to Patagonia founder CEO Yvon Chouinard, asking him to testify before the Committee on the Antiquities Act, national monuments and federal land management.
Patagonia has been feuding with Bishop and Trump administration officials after President Donald Trump said he would reduce the Bears Ears monument, a sacred cultural site for five Native American tribes, by 85 percent and cut the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in half.
Shortly after that announcement, the company changed its website homepage to read: “The President stole your land”.
In response, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and the House panel criticized Patagonia, accusing the company of lying to the public about the decision to change the monument designations.
“You mean Patagonia, made in China? This is an example of a special interest,” Zinke told reporters. “I think it is shameful and appalling that they would blatantly lie in order to get money in their coffers. No land, not one square inch, has been transferred or sold.”
Patagonia clothing is made in China, as well as other countries, including the United States.
In his letter to Chouinard, Bishop said “it is apparent through multiple media accounts and appearances that you have strong feelings on the topic” and said that it was better to debate land management issues in public.
Patagonia spokeswoman Corley Kenna said the company was reviewing the invitation, which it learned about through press reports.
Patagonia and other outdoor apparel retailers have been outspoken opponents of the Trump administration and the Utah congressional delegation’s broader proposals on public lands policy.
Patagonia also joined a lawsuit this month challenging the Trump administration’s plan to alter national monuments, federal land that is protected from development.
In February, the Outdoor Retailer show, the industry’s largest exhibition, decided to stop hosting the multi-million dollar annual event in Utah.
Reporting By Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Susan Thomas