27 Documented Reasons why Ryan Zinke is the Worst Secretary of Interior Ever.
In his short term in office, Ryan Zinke has proven that he is the worst Secretary of Interior ever—far worse even than James Watts. He is undermining wildlife conservation—almost every day he takes some action that harms wildlife and those trying to preserve it. This terrible record has been achieved in just a few months and, unfortunately, he will be making additional attacks on wildlife conservation—I will add these misdeeds to future revisions of this blog. Here are examples along with references supporting each point:
1 The major reason why Zinke won easy confirmation was based on his opposition to takeover of Federal public lands by states but his record shows no concern for conservation. “He has a 4 percent lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters, and oil and gas companies have donated nearly $350,000 to his campaigns. He is a strong supporter of coal — “we are not going to power our nation on pixie dust and hope,” he told a local crowd in 2014 — and has pushed to end Mr. Obama’s moratorium on new coal leases.” The only wildlife Zinke cares about are game or fish that he consumes. The only public lands users he cares about are extractive industries, welfare ranchers, and hunters. He care nothing for non-game animals or people who want to enjoy wildlife without killing it. New York York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/01/us/for-interior-montanan-with-deep-roots-and-inconsistent-record.html?emc=edit_th_20170302&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=10365419&_r=0
2 He is scrapping the Sage Grouse compromise plan that took years to negotiate between the Obama Admin. & western states—he is devoted first and foremost to “new mineral leasing, grazing and other commercial activities across the quirky bird’s Western habitat.” He went ahead without consulting western governors of Wyoming & Colorado who helped forge the compromise. Audubon Society http://www.audubon.org/magazine/fall-2017/zinkes-new-conservation-plans-will-hurt-not-help And New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/28/climate/trump-sage-grouse.html?emc=edit_tnt_20170928&nlid=10365419&tntemail0=yAnd Wyofile: http://www.wyofile.com/western-governors-fret-zinke-ponders-review-grouse-plans/1
3 Instead of fighting for conservation & national parks, he pushes for “energy dominance” as if he were Sec. of Energy. Our national parks are overwhelmed with visitors & need more support but the Trump-Zinke budget proposes a 13 percent budget cut! New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/27/us/national-parks-overcrowding.html?emc=edit_th_20170928&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=10365419&_r=0
4 In hearings for his job, he claimed he was a “Teddy Roosevelt Republican” but TR was the first president used the Antiquities Act to expand monuments while Zinke is pushing major cutbacks to monuments. These cutbacks despite conclusive survey evidence that western state citizens support monuments & don’t want to cut them—only small but powerful extractive industry and welfare ranchers favor cutbacks: E&E News: https://www.eenews.net/greenwire/2017/09/27/stories/1060061887
5 Zinke’s report on monuments contained several factual errors concerning them exposed by Senator Heinrich of New Mexico showing that Zinke is ignorant, a liar, and incompetent: https://medium.com/westwise/senator-calls-out-multiple-factual-errors-in-national-monuments-report-to-donald-trump-9c462ac1251b
6 Zinke supports so-called “Sportsmen’s Heritage Bill” that protects use of lead bullets including in wildlife refuges. Lead bullets have been proven to be harmful to species such as the Condor demonstrating and are inexpensive—surveys show that most hunters support the use of non-lead bullets. Again that Zinke cares more about unethical hunters & the NRA than conservation: New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/27/opinion/editorials/nra-guns-california-trump.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_ty_20170927&nl=opinion-today&nl_art=3&nlid=10365419&ref=headline&te=1And http://nmpoliticalreport.com/209535/lead-zinke-ban-public-lands-en/
7 Zinke has accused Interior employees of disloyalty—showing that he does not understand the purpose of the department he heads. His “loyalty” comments have been roundly condemned by public employees & ethicists. His concept of loyalty is based on loyalty to the chain of command—Trump and Zinke—while employees should be loyal to the assistance Interior provides to the U.S.—not Trump, Zinke, and extractive industries. EE News: https://www.eenews.net/greenwire/2017/09/26/stories/1060061733
8 Zinke doesn’t understand or doesn’t listen to science—for example, he focuses on sage grouse populations instead of habitat conservation and proposes using captive breeding to support sage grouse—both approaches are discredited by science. Audubon: http://www.audubon.org/magazine/fall-2017/zinkes-new-conservation-plans-will-hurt-not-help
9 Zinke is giving more “flexibility” to welfare ranchers on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in how cows graze public lands. There is a mountain of evidence such as that described in George Wuerthner’s Welfare Ranching (book) and Lynn Jacobs Waste of the West (book) that ranching is harmful to the lands and wasteful subsidy of the welfare ranchers who abuse the land. The BLM’s own survey shows their lands are in terrible shape though they try to deny that it is due to omnipresent welfare rancher grazing. EE News: https://www.eenews.net/eenewspm/2017/09/22/stories/1060061495
10 Zinke wants to privatize campsites on public lands—which is guaranteed to increase prices for campers & turn over key decisions to those who care about profit first: The New Mexican http://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/idea-to-privatize-campsites-has-opponents-worried-prices-could-skyrocket/article_6b27e3e2-e9cf-56c9-bf13-2ca02cbb71a1.html
11 Zinke supports “aggressive forest thinning” to deal with wildfires despite the fact that it is climate change and weather that cause the fires and that ecologists have shown that this this thinning has bad consequences for ecosystems and the fires have good effects for wildlife and elk hunters. High Country News: http://www.hcn.org/articles/dc-dispatch-zinkes-fire-memo-calls-for-aggressive-thinning-of-western-forests?utm_source=wcn1&utm_medium=email
12 Zinke supports Department of Interior’s top lawyer Ryan Nelson who wants to make it hard or impossible for conservationists to delay logging and other activities that harm wildlife. EE News: https://www.eenews.net/greenwire/2017/09/21/stories/1060061353
13 Zinke misled Trump and the public on the monuments that have previously been cut. In most of these cases, the land remained protected such as by the National Park Service. Again, demonstrates that nothing Zinke says can be trusted. EE News: https://www.eenews.net/greenwire/2017/09/21/stories/1060061363
14 Zinke is totally focused on hunting and game species—he cares nothing for non-game animals and the vast majority of the public who like to watch wildlife instead of hunt it. But these non-game watchers spend far more money and support communities near conservation areas than hunters. EE News: https://www.eenews.net/eenewspm/stories/1060061129/most_read
15 Zinke supports opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to extractive industries—again demonstrating his top priority is “energy dominance” and cares nothing for conservation. New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/16/climate/trump-arctic-refuge-drilling.html?mcubz=3&_r=0
16 Zinke and Trump appointed National Rifle Association official (lobbyist) to the US National Park Foundation board—she wants to get rid of regulations that hinder hunting and wants to allow baiting and killing of cubs and other unethical hunting practices. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/nra-us-national-park-foundation-donald-trump-susan-lapierre-womans-leadership-forum-a7928791.html
17 Even sportsmen, the one “conservation group” that Zinke pays any attention to, find his policies wrong including the shrinking of monuments and inattention to conservation. High Country News: http://www.hcn.org/articles/public-lands-as-sportsmen-watch-zinke-disillusionment-replaces-hope?utm_source=wcn1&utm_medium=email
18 Zinke has forced the Interior Department to speed oil & gas leases on public lands that would “short circuit” environmental reviews of these leases—the leases run for at least 10 years & often much longer. New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/28/opinion/trump-oil-public-lands.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_ty_20170828&nl=opinion-today&nl_art=4&nlid=10365419&ref=headline&te=1&_r=0
19 Zinke’s 2018 budget for the Bureau of Land Management would “shift B.L.M. funding for nonenergy programs to oil and gas production. With the bureau’s staff and resources already strained, the Trump budget would force the agency to short-circuit environmental reviews and impact assessments on energy development and curtail priorities important to rural communities that depend on the public lands, like fire prevention, rangeland improvement, conservation of fish and wildlife habitat, and recreation.” New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/28/opinion/trump-oil-public-lands.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_ty_20170828&nl=opinion-today&nl_art=4&nlid=10365419&ref=headline&te=1&_r=0
20 Zinke gives private talks to groups that want to take over public lands for states and private interests such as ALEC-- American Legislative Exchange Council funded by the Koch Brothers and Exxon. By way of contrast, he gave little chance for input to conservationists in his review of monuments. High Country News: http://www.hcn.org/articles/department-of-the-interior-secretary-gives-closed-door-speech-to-alec?utm_source=wcn1&utm_medium=email
21 Zinke and Interior have denied endangered species protection to threatened species such as the Pacific Blue Fin Tuna. He toadies to the fishing industry. Ecowatch: https://www.ecowatch.com/bluefin-tuna-endangered-species-2470265690.html
22 Zinke’s staff are dominated by extractive industry officials and lobbyists. An early count totaled 21 of his staff from extractive industries versus 3 from conservation-sports area. He hired Susan Combs of Texas to control the agency’s budget. Combs fought against USFWS efforts to preserve species. High Country News: http://www.hcn.org/articles/interiors-energy-priorities-undergird-sweeping-monuments-review?utm_source=wcn1&utm_medium=email And High Country News: http://www.hcn.org/articles/whos-up-for-trump-administration-positions-this-week?utm_source=wcn1&utm_medium=email
23 Zinke has pushed policy changes that prioritize extractive industries and devalue conservation. His staff “filed a legal proposal to rescind the nation’s first safety regulation on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. They are exploring a proposal to loosen safety rules on underwater drilling equipment put in place after the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Zinke rolled back an Obama-era order to block coal mining on public lands and delayed carrying out a regulation controlling emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, from oil and gas wells.” New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/25/us/politics/interior-secretary-zinke-staff-conservation-regulations.html?emc=edit_th_20170726&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=10365419&_r=0
24 Zinke is opening BLM to more ORV use in sensitive areas which threatens archeological sites but is also very harmful to wildlife as has been proven by scientific research. High Country News: http://www.hcn.org/issues/49.7/latest-zinke-reopens-recapture-canyon-to-motor-vehicles?utm_source=wcn1&utm_medium=emailAnd pp. 295-335 of Todd Wilkinson, Science Under Siege.
25 Zinke supported the Republican legislation that allows Alaskans to kill wolf pups and bear cubs in dens i
n NATIONAL WILDLFIE REFUGES. Chicago Tribune: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-edit-alaska-0313-jm-20170310-story.html
26 Zinke punishes professional employees for fighting climate change such as Joel Clement who was transferred from a job protecting Alaskan villages from rising seas to “auditing fossil fuel company leases as discussed in LA Times http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-trump-civil-servants-201709-story.html
27 Zinke has abused travel wasting public funds on flights as reported by the media on September 29th. These actions reveal the hypocrisy of this so-called Teddy Roosevelt Republican—he fits well in with Donald Trump Administration—like Trump, he is a liar.
I have just completed a book titled "Wildlife Politics" that is scheduled to be published by Cambridge University Press on March 30, 2017. The book covers broadly all major aspects of wildlife conservation policy worldwide. During my research for the book, I noticed that there was no blog available for sharing informaton on wildlife conservation and thus I set up this blog to accomplish this purpose. Please share any informaticoncerning issues related to wildife policy and politics. I welcome feedback from users concerning this blog and website.