Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has been a busy boy. Courtesy of the Washington Post, here’s what he’s been up to:
Under Trump’s direction, Zinke has decided it’s okay to drill for oil along America’s coastlines. Except for Florida. At the request of Trump’s buddy, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), the Sunshine State will be exempt. Sen. Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia, had this to say:
“Are they putting Florida off-limits because President Trump has a vacation property — Mar-a-Lago — on the Atlantic coast of Florida and he worries about the environmental risk there, but he’s not worried about environmental risk in Virginia?”
That’s part of the reason, Tim, but this might have something to do with it, too:
… state attorneys general, joined by environmental groups, were suggesting that Zinke had undermined the entire drilling rule with his high-profile visit to Tallahassee, where he heaped praise on “straightforward, easy to work for” Gov. Rick Scott (R) — a political ally whom Trump has repeatedly urged to run for the U.S. Senate.
So if you’re a red state, you might get an exemption. If you’re a blue state, which most of our coastal states are, you’re out of luck. That would be California, Oregon, Washington in the West. On the East Coast it’s Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York and those pesky New England states. Florida leans purple, ergo the pandering.
There’s also Zinke’s plan to move thousands of Interior jobs out of Washington, D.C. Is it an attempt to make the department more effective or to dismantle the DOI? Smart money’s on the latter. Zinke is already on board for a $1.6 Billion DOI budget cut. Here’s former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell:
“I will say most people view this not as an attempt to streamline but an attempt to downsize.”
Sharon Buccino, senior director for lands at the Natural Resources Defense Council, sums it up:
“A regional approach to managing Interior might indeed make sense, but the jury is out on this reorganization. Virtually everything Secretary Zinke has done to date has been to advance fossil fuel interests — above the stewardship of our public lands, preservation of wildlife and protection of clean air and water.”
There are many more Zinke antics but it’s late, so I’ll close with this: the competition is stiff but Zinke is in the running for worst member of the Trump cabinet. According to a WaPo opinion piece, even worse than Atty. Gen. Sessions, Treas. Sec. Mnuchin, EPA head Scott Pruit, Ed. Sec. DeVos…
There are concerns over Zinke’s travel expenses, his scaling back of National Monuments, his climate change waffling, his flag raising ritual, but the harshest critique comes from his recent reversal on drilling off the Florida coast. From the opinion column:
…his decision is a model of ideological extremism tempered by partisan favoritism. In that sense, I suppose he’s the “perfect” Cabinet official for this president.