Remember how Ryan Zinke used to answer questions about global warming by talking about growing up next to Glacier Park and watching the glaciers recede? Remember Zinke spending federal dollars for a photo op at the Park? Remember when, a few days after his confirmation as Secretary of the Interior, he claimed that he and President Trump wanted to tackle the $125 million maintenance backlog and make the “visitor experience world class”?
Surely, you remember that Zinke told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle earlier this year that one of his top priorities as head of Interior would be “to prioritize the estimated $12.5 billion in backlog of maintenance and repair in our national parks.”
It turns out that Zinke doesn’t actually care about Glacier National Park at all, issuing a written statement defending the proposed Trump budget’s $1 million cut to funding for Glacier and millions more across federally managed lands that Zinke oversees.
There’s little doubt that Congressman Zinke has been busy in his tenure at Interior: he’s made time for a huge number of appearances on conservative media, for meetings with oil company executives, and for meetings with two people described as “America’s own shitlords.”
What he hasn’t found time to do is to fight for the budgets our national parks desperately need. And because it’s Ryan Zinke, you know that he earlier said he would, telling Interior employees right after his confirmation that he would protect the budget:
“I looked at the budget,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in his first address to employees. “I’m not happy. We’re going to fight about it, and I think I’m going to win at the end of the day.”
Our national parks in Montana are more than a backdrop for photo opportunities for vainglorious politicians. They play an essential role in our economy and our character. That Ryan Zinke isn’t willing to fight to protect them shows just how little regard he has for the people he once said he represented.