Nel's New Day

April 26, 2018

Zinke Possibly Next for Limelight

Much has been said about the corruption and environmental destruction by EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt while Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has flown under the radar. Yet Zinke is bent on razing public land in the United States while illegally using taxpayer monies. He also consistently brags about being a “geologist,” sometimes under oath, to give weight to all his opinions about endangered species, oil drilling, climate change, and anything else he declaims. Zinke’s only background in geology, however, comes from his college major. He attended the University of Oregon on a football scholarship and said he chose his major by “closing my eyes and randomly pointing to a major from the academic catalog.”

Zinke also failed to disclose information to ethics officials, promoted the birther conspiracy about President Obama, inappropriately reassigned a large number of Native Americans in his agency, frequently decried “diversity,” and inappropriately used taxpayer funds for his unnecessary travel and that of his wife who needed to go to her campaign events. He also reassigned a scientist who revealed the negative impact of climate change on Alaska Native communities. Zinke was also criticized for a 2014 campaign email asking for donations and reporting that he “served as a Team Leader on SEAL Team Six—the team responsible for the mission to get Osama Bin Laden.” Osama bin Laden was killed three years after Zinke retired.

Other Zinke issues:

  • Threatening Alaska’s GOP senators, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, with penalties for their state if they didn’t vote for a health care plan.
  •  Ignoring the National Park System Advisory Board—refusing to even meet with them—until three-fourths of them quit.
  • Relying on a top energy industry lobbyist for help with a list of regulatory rollbacks.
  • Requiring extra work from his staff for coordinating his wife’s access to high-level politicians and donors to benefit her position chairing the senatorial campaign for GOP Troy Downing who is running against incumbent Sen. Jon Tester.
  • Promising Florida that he wouldn’t drill of its coast after planning coastal oil drilling off the other 13 states despite their governors’ objections. (Zinke said that Florida is “unique”: he might mean that Mar-a-Lago is in Florida and that Gov. Rick Scott is running against Democrat Bill Nelson for U.S. Senate.)
  • Spending $53,000 on three helicopter trips, including one to go horseback riding with VP Mike Pence. (He paid for one of them out of wildfire preparedness funds until someone pointed out that it was inappropriate.)
  • Failing to disclose shares in a gun company that lobbies the government on “defense appropriations and authorizations” and “carbon fiber barrels.” (The company got an $11.4 million contract last year.)
  • Demanding confidential energy data for others’ use.
  • Illegally blocking plans to expand Native American tribes from expanding casino operations in Connecticut which benefitted politically connected MGM Resorts International.
  • Spending almost $139,000 to upgrade three sets of double doors in his office.
  •  Taking a taxpaid security detail on his vacation with his wife to Turkey and Greece.

More Zinke problems:

  • Changed regulations to allow seismic testing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Lifted restrictions on new coal leasing on public lands.
  • Proposed the elimination of safety requirements to protect communities from methane pollution by oil and gas drilling on public lands.
  • Renewed mining leases near Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
  • Proposed a 90-percent cut to America’s most important conservation program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
  • Eliminated a policy asking parks to create plans for preserving natural resources and protecting them from threats like climate change.

Zinke has some esoteric positions. When he is in the building, he flies a special Department of Interior flag. A security staff takes the flag up the elevator to the seventh floor and climbs the stairs to the roof where he hoists the flag. At night, he repeats the journey to take down the flag. Zinke’s spokesperson called the flag “a major sign of transparency.” (The only other specialized flying flag in the government is above the State Department, but it’s always there.) Zinke arrived for his first day at work on horseback and kept a glass-case display of hunting knives until he was told to remove them because of security risks. His wood-paneled office walls sport animal heads. In a speech to fossil fuel executives, he complained that 30 percent of his agency are “not loyal to the flag.” (He didn’t say which one.)

Zinke also created a “challenge coin” for the Interior Department with his name emblazoned on the front. These coins began as a military tradition during World War I when Ivy League students slapped their coins on the table. The person without one had to buy a round of drinks for the others.

National Park Service officials have scrubbed every mention of humans’ role in causing climate change in connection with sea-level rise and storm surge. Delays in releasing reports have blocked information about hurricane forecasts, safeguarding artifacts, and locating buildings. (Over at the EPA, Scott Pruitt tried to create a better coin with his name but omitting the EPA logo.)

Zinke’s 15-member “Made in America” Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee is composed of representatives from fishing, shooting sports, motorized vehicles, hospitality, and national park concessions interests, three of them having conflicts of interests. Missing are any nominees recommended by the Outdoor Industry Association advocating outdoor sports. Most members on the Royalty Policy Committee come from fossil fuel and mining industries. His new International Wildlife Conservation Council is mainly comprised of trophy hunters and individuals with ties to President Trump’s oldest son, who is an avid hunter. Member Peter Horn owns a hunting preserve in conjunction with Eric and Don Jr. Trump.

Zinke has made BLM staff in Western states propaganda tools by requiring them to wear “vision” cards with illustrations of an oil rig and cows grazing. The cards reference “customers” instead of “public” and list the purpose as improving “the health and productivity of the land.” Because BLM has no director, Zinke has taken that role, moving forward with plundering the lands resources. A key phrase in supporting the America First Energy Plan is “to serve industry.”

Zinke’s BIA Director Bryan Rice, appointed only six months ago, has resigned. As of this writing, nobody is talking about the reason.

Although only Florida is exempted from offshore oil drilling, Zinke is cooling off about drilling in the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic off Maine. He told the Senate Energy Committee that these places had little recoverable oil and gas. In another loss, he has backed down from a monstrous increase in park entrance fees of $45 to an extra $5, thanks to the vociferous public protest. He also postponed selling over 4,000 acres of leases near the sacred tribal site of Chaco Canyon after protests from indigenous people and withdrew 17,300 acres from a fossil fuel lease auction in Montana.  A big political loss was the election of Democrat Conor Lamb to be the representative after a special election in Pennsylvania despite Zinke’s show of presenting a check for a coal mine reclamation with GOP candidate Rick Saccone in attendance. Once again Republicans have gotten away with violated the Hatch Act.

Despite criticism, Zinke continues his destruction of public land. In his testimony before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, he repeated his plans to cover the National Park Service maintenance backlog with revenue from mining and drilling. Republicans in both congressional chambers already have bills in accord with Zinke’s desires. If they get their way, they will sell off sensitive wildlife habitat such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil companies too build park bathrooms. Other national monuments would be opened to mining and drilling. The plan will likely fail because it requires an oil price that are double the current level.

Zinke is unhappy about being questioned for his profligate spending, and he’s sure to hate this hilarious—and accurate—segment on John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight which includes the Interior Secretary throwing the “Second Lady,” Karen Pence, around like a “sack of unbleached flour.”  Zinke banned a reporter from Outside from his presence for pointing out that Zinke had rigged his fly rod backward. That’s considered bad form in Montana.

Recently dark money is paying for ads, and Zinke is meeting with deep-pocketed donors. A polling firm has called Iowa GOP voters, testing Zinke’s name recognition for a 2024 presidential run. With all his problems, he may need to wait before he measures for drapes in the Oval Office. He might first run for Montana governor because he exempted Montana from moving public lands to the private sector.

During Zinke’s confirmation hearings, he promised that he would follow Teddy Roosevelt in being a steward of the lands with his concern about global warming. Once confirmed, he started selling off national monuments to the highest bidder and dropping regulations to satisfy business interests. Sen. Ron Wyden said it best when he stated that voting for Zinke was “one of the biggest regrets of my time in public service.”

1 Comment »

  1. I thought we already knew about the lowest of the low, but this guy is disgusting.

    Like

    Comment by Lee Lynch — April 27, 2018 @ 1:04 AM | Reply


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

the way of improvement leads home

reflections at the intersection of American history, religion, politics, and academic life

© blogfactory

Genuine news

Civil Rights Advocacy

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

AGR Daily News

Transformational News; What Works For Seven Future Generations Without Causing Harm?

JONATHAN TURLEY

Res ipsa loquitur - The thing itself speaks

Jennifer Hofmann

Inspiration for soul-divers, seekers, and activists.

Occupy Democrats

Progressive political commentary/book reviews for youth and adults

V e t P o l i t i c s

politics from a liberal veteran's perspective

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...

Rainbow round table news

Official News Outlet for the Rainbow Round Table of the American Library Association

The Extinction Protocol

Geologic and Earthchange News events

Central Oregon Coast NOW

The Central Oregon Coast Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW)

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Over the Rainbow Books

A Book List from Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: