Executive Watch: Zinke Hits the Skids

Executive Watch: Zinke Hits the Skids

Another ethics-challenged Trump environmental appointee will be tossed from the ship at the end of this month. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke resigned under pressure on December 15.

Zinke is currently under investigation for his land dealings in Montana and possible conflicts of interest with his official position, and has been targeted previously for questionable official expenses in connection with travel and personal security. White House sources indicate that he had been told to leave by the end of 2018 or be fired.

Zinke has been the point person for Trump’s expansion of oil and gas drilling on public lands and offshore, and was a cheerleader for reliance on fossil fuels. While welcoming Zinke’s departure, conservation advocates warned that it will be necessary to continue to combat those policies under whomever is named to replace him.

“Good riddance to the most scandal-plagued Interior Secretary in recent memory,” said national League of Conservation Voters (LCV) president Gene Karpinski. “Between his ethical failures, troubling history on racial issues, and irresponsible policies selling out our majestic public lands and waters to big polluters, it’s past time for Ryan Zinke to go. But the damage done by this administration’s anti-conservation policies will not be erased by his departure alone, and we remain equally concerned about the stewardship of America’s public lands under the direction of his deputy David Bernhardt, a former industry lobbyist who has been doing the bidding of corporate polluters since he joined the Interior Department.”

“Changing the face presenting Trump’s terrible pro-pollution policies at Interior does nothing to protect our climate,” noted NCLCV Executive Director Carrie Clark. “We must continue to aggressively fight back against this administration’s campaign to spoil our coast and public lands with drilling.”

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