Patagonia, the much-loved outdoor clothing brand, has been in the news quite a bit lately. Earlier this week the company announced a new CEO, Ryan Gellert, and the week before headlines were flying about the company’s controversial tags calling for customers to “vote the assholes out.” Today Patagonia is releasing Public Trust, a documentary about a decades-long agenda to sell the United States’ federal lands to private interests, namely oil, gas, and uranium mining.
It was originally screened at Montana’s Big Sky Documentary Film Festival earlier this year, but Patagonia is streaming it for free on YouTube at 8 p.m. E.T., embedded below.
The 96-minute-long documentary is introduced by the voice of Hal Herring, an outdoor journalist and activist, as well as conservationist Spencer Shaver and Bernadette Demientieff, the executive director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee. The first half of the film provides a short background on the origins of America’s public lands and the wide range of people who enjoy and depend on them.
Public Trust quickly shifts its focus into the political arena, walking the viewer through the years as president after president added to the country’s list of protected national monuments until, of course, Trump. We’re introduced to Ryan Zinke, Trump’s former Secretary of the Interior who was a consultant in the mining industry before his political appointment and, after resigning in shame, has since gone back to consulting in the mining industry. We’re introduced to Jason Chaffetz and David Bernhard, a hack from Utah and Trump’s new Secretary of the interior, respectively, and the blatant abuse of their positions to benefit their corporate clients.
The film concludes by illustrating Trump’s nearly total acceptance of legislation drafted by ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, which explicitly seeks to transfer the ownership of federal lands to states, which would then auction them off to the highest bidder.
Public Trust does a phenomenal job not just laying out the wholesale greed of extractive industries writ large and Trump’s craven moves to stripmine the country for his own personal ambition, but it also demonstrates the real-world damage that these mining companies have done to landscapes around the world, and the damage they will do to native peoples and Americans nationwide if Trump is reelected.