Ryan Zinke

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.

History Shows That Stacking Federal Science Advisory Committees Doesn't Work

Read time: 6 mins
Deepwater Horizon oil rig on fire

By Donald Boesch, University of Maryland

Scientists are busy people, but every year thousands donate many hours of their time without payment to advise Congress and federal government agencies. They provide input on all kinds of issues, from antibiotic resistance to mapping the world’s oceans in three dimensions.

The Trump administration has raised alarms by signaling that it is determined to replace scientific advisers who are not in line with its political philosophy. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is replacing most of the members of EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors and, very likely, its Science Advisory Board. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has suspended the activities of numerous advisory panels, including many scientific committees, pending review of their purpose and composition.

Will Trump Cabinet members really be able to shift the scientific advice on which their agencies rely? And how should scientists respond?

Ryan Zinke

Ryan Zinke

Credentials

  • M.S. Global Leadership,  University of San Diego (2003). [1]
  • M.B.A., National University (1991). [1]
  • B.S. Geology, University of Oregon (1984). [2]

Background

Read time: 13 mins

Federal Research Has Been Stoking Oil, Gas Interest in Bears Ears Monument for Years

Read time: 8 mins
Bluff formations in Bears Ears Monument

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke is considering revoking the protected status from Bears Ears National Monument, a culturally and archaeologically significant area spanning 1.35 million acres in Utah and protected by then-President Barack Obama under the Antiquities Act of 1906 during his last weeks in office.

While numerous Native American tribes claim ties and sacred sites within its borders, Bears Ears is also of considerable interest to the fossil fuel industry for its close proximity to oil and gas deposits, one of several reasons for pushback against the monument designation. According to a map published by WildEarth Guardians, a group calling for protection of Bears Ears, hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) powerhouses EOG Resources and Whiting Petroleum are already drilling near the area. Soon, however, there may be much more activity.

A DeSmog review of Utah state records shows that the drilling company Wesco Operating has obtained permits to drill in oil fields near Bears Ears, fields which are part of a larger shale basin extending under the monument. Furthermore, the federal government has been stoking interest in developing that shale basin to the tune of nearly three quarters of a million dollars invested in feasibility research.

Former Koch Agents, Fossil Fuel Industry Hired Guns Now Staffing Trump's Federal Agencies

Read time: 9 mins
Obama and Trump officials meet in the White House

On March 8, ProPublica obtained “beachhead team” rosters with the names of hundreds of temporary staffers the Trump administration has installed in federal agencies, including the Department of Interior (DOI), Department of Energy (DOE), the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and others. 

A DeSmog investigation shows that this list of staffers, largely undisclosed before this week, includes former operatives allied with Koch Industries, oil and coal industry employees, a former employee of a prominent climate denial group, and an advocate for a pro-trophy hunting organization funded by oil and gas. The background and connections of these staffers may serve as a preview to potential priorities these agencies may take on related to energy, climate, and environment under Donald Trump.

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