Ryan Zinke

Pruitt Should Expect the 'Spanish Inquisition' From House Oversight Authorities

Read time: 4 mins
Scott Pruitt

This is a guest post by ClimateDenierRoundup

Yesterday, a new Democratic House took up its gavel and ushered in a long-overdue agenda of government oversight. We might finally start to see answers to the many, many questions that have come up over the past two years about Trump’s regulatory rollbacks. One lobbyist told CNBC’s Tim DeChristopher that the Trump administration should expect to face “the Spanish Inquisition.”

All this change has got to be worrisome for Trump’s cabinet, even those like Zinke who have already left, given everything that reporters (who lack the power to issue subpoenas or compel testimony under oath) have uncovered about Pruitt.

Shutdown, Drilling and Coal: The Trump Administration’s Holiday Gifts to the World

Read time: 5 mins
President Trump signing papers at his desk in the Oval Office

By Tara Lohan, The Revelator. Originally posted on The Revelator.

President Trump didn’t exactly lie low over the holidays.

The battle over border-wall funding and the announced departures of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis stole most of the headlines, but they were hardly the only events of the Trump administration’s Christmas.

We kept a close watch on news affecting the environment, health and wildlife, and there was plenty to keep us busy. From new developments on plans to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to attacks on air-pollution regulations, here’s a blow-by-blow account of what you may have missed:

What America Still Stands to Lose as Zinke Leaves Interior and Ex-Oil Lobbyist David Bernhardt Stands by

Read time: 7 mins
Anti-Trump graffiti at Grand Staircase-Escalante

With the resignation of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, environmental and public lands advocates are asking: Will the new leader be any better for the environment than the previous one? And from their perspective, the answer is a resounding, “No.”

David Bernhardt, the current Deputy Interior Secretary, a former oil industry lobbyist, is likely to become Acting Secretary when Zinke leaves at the end of the year. He shares the same types of conflicts of interest his boss does. The Western Values Project (WVP), a pro-public lands group, has documented Bernhardt’s many conflicts, illustrating how his work helps special interest groups — including some of his former clients — in advancing agendas that often undermine protections for public lands and wildlife.

If Democrats Want a 'Green New Deal,' These Congressional Investigations Need to Happen

Read time: 11 mins
Sunrise Movement campaigners holding signs

A startling new report on climate change from the Trump administration makes clear that if the U.S. government and other major polluters don't do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the resulting climate impacts will be dramatic and costly, both to the U.S. economy and the long-term livability of the planet.

These dire warnings are nothing new, but they come at a time when the Democratic party appears potentially willing to invest serious political capital on the issue of climate change. A new generation of Democrats, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the freshly elected New York representative, are pushing the old guard towards a “Green New Deal.”

But if Dems want that effort to succeed, they have some work to do first.

Zinke's Shrinking of National Monuments and Meetings With Halliburton Could Be Center of DOJ Investigation

Read time: 3 mins
Ryan Zinke in Yosemite

By Olivia Rosane, EcoWatch. Reposted with permission from EcoWatch.

One of the Department of Interior's (DOI) internal watchdog investigations into Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's behavior while in office has been referred to the Justice Department, which only happens when investigators determine there might have been a criminal violation, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Two sources familiar with the investigation broke the news to the press, but did not specify which of the probes into Zinke's actions was involved. A senior White House official only told The Washington Post that the investigation revolved around whether Zinke “used his office to help himself.”

Five Climate Science Deniers to Know in Trump's Administration

Read time: 8 mins
Trump, Perry, Zinke, Pence, and Pruitt

There are five folks spearheading the United States government who think that when it comes to climate change, they know better than all of the world’s main scientific institutions.

Scott Pruitt Is An Ethics Nightmare, But So Is Ryan Zinke

Read time: 10 mins

By David Halperin, crossposted from Republic Report

A Westerner appointed to President Trump’s cabinet, he’s drawn attention for his penchant for expensive travel, vanity perquisites of office, abuse of agency staff time, and cozy personal financial deals with business executives whose industries he oversees. Meanwhile, he has denied the dangers of climate change, met extensively with corporate lobbyists, and gutted the environmental protections implemented by prior administrations.

Yes, that’s entitled EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, whose record of seeking personal luxuries and advantages at taxpayer expense, while gearing policy to polluting industries, and punishing subordinates who object, is breathtakingly awful.

But it also pretty well describes Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.

Koch-Backed and Anti-Renewable Energy Groups Wooing Interior Department Official

Read time: 5 mins
Vincent DeVito

Fossil fuel groups backed by the Koch brothers and lobbyists for anti-renewable energy entities have been courting an Interior Department official responsible for energy policy, according to internal documents. Vincent DeVito, a senior energy advisor to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, has received considerable attention from these groups, accepting several invitations to closed meetings and conferences.

Drilling and Mining Interests Pushed to Shrink Utah National Monuments, Documents Reveal

Read time: 3 mins
Cedar Mesa Citadel Ruins at Bears Ears National Monument

By Lorraine Chow, EcoWatch. Reposted with permission from EcoWatch.

Even though Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke insisted “this is not about energy,” environmentalists and public lands advocates have long suspected the Trump administration's cuts to national monuments were driven by its push for more drilling, mining and other development.

Now, internal Interior Department documents obtained by the New York Times show that gaining access to the oilnatural gas and uranium deposits in Bears Ears and coal reserves in Grand Staircase-Escalante were indeed key reasons behind President Trump's drastic cuts to the two monuments in Utah.

Former Head of Energy, Environment at ALEC, Todd Wynn, Hired by Trump Interior Department

Read time: 9 mins
Todd Wynn

Todd Wynn, former Director of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)'s Energy Environmental and Agriculture Task Force, was recently hired by President Donald Trump to work as a senior-ranking official in the U.S. Department of the Interior. 

DeSmog discovered the hire via LinkedIn, and Wynn says on his profile page that he began at Interior in October.

Wynn worked at ALEC from 2011 to 2013 and then became Director of External Affairs for Edison Electric Institute (EEI), a trade association representing electric utility companies nationwide. Prior to his position at ALEC, Wynn served as Vice President of the Cascade Policy Institute, a part of the State Policy Network (SPN), a national chain of state-level conservative and corporate-funded think-tanks which was started as an ALEC offshoot.

ALEC's critics have described the organization, a national consortium of mostly Republican Party state legislators and corporate lobbyists, as a “corporate bill mill.” That's because its lobbyist members convene several times a year with legislators to produce what it calls “model bills” which have ended up as actual legislation thousands of times since the organization's founding in 1973.

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