The Secretary of the Interior is responsible for the management and conservation of our lands natural resources and land use. Ryan Zinke is our current Secretary of the Interior. He is a Republican with a degree in Geology from the University of Oregon, a master’s degree in Business Finance, & a Master’s in Global Leadership from the University of San Diego. Zinke served as a Navy SEAL from 1986 to 2008. He also served on the Armed Services Committee & the Committee on Natural Resources. He is a supporter of a multiple-land use approach which includes recreation, conservation, & economic. With this amount of experience with geology, global leadership, and serving on a committee that deals with natural resources, he should have a fair bit of knowledge of situations he will deal with as the Secretary of the Interior.
Once in office, Zinke immediately took it upon himself to cut down the size of a number of the country’s national monuments. “One of Zinke’s first acts was to overturn a moratorium on new leases for coal mines on public land. He subsequently recommended slashing the size of several national monuments”. These monuments include Bear’s Ears and Gold Butte. Zinke has also proposed to get rid of a plan to save the endangered sage grouse, instead giving the ten million acres set aside for their preservation, to mining. He has had a few stumbles during his term, booking a $12,000 flight on a jet owned by an oil executive and billing taxpayers $6,000 for a helicopter trip. It was also reported that he used money from a wildfire preparedness fund to pay for his flights, approximately $40,000. As of January of this year, he was in the process of “expanding drilling in sensitive federal areas on land and at sea” (Fears). There have been many complaints regarding Zinke’s method of handling this plan, as opposers such as other Republican governors of surrounding coastal states say they want to same exemption as Florida. He is also in hot water with President Trump about promising Florida’s governor, Rick Scott, that Florida’s coastline was “off limits” to offshore drilling. This promise was made without approval from the President. However, this “agreement” between Zinke and Scott cannot be upheld, as it was previously decided that Florida would be a location for off shore drilling. “This confirms what we all suspected: there is no deal to protect Florida from drilling” (Nelson). It seems as though this “promise” was no more than a political stunt.
Being such an important position in the US government, the Secretary of the Interior should put conservation first, doing what’s best for the people and for the land. With his experience in geology, he should thoroughly understand the impacts of oil drilling and its effects on the earth’s crust. Instead, he’s taking advantage of his position to gain as much popularity and siding with large corporations such as oil to get what he wants. Thought it seems Ryan Zinke has the proper background to understand the importance of conservation, he appears to be more interested in increasing his own popularity and financial gain than preserving natural resources. We can only hope that with his remaining time in office, Zinke will realize the importance of his position and switch lanes to do what’s best for the country he’s serving, as well as its land and resources.
Fears, Darryl. “It’s Been a Rough Year for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke – and It’s Still January.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 29 Jan. 2018, www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2018/01/29/its-been-a-rough-year-for-interior-secretary-ryan-zinke-and-its-still-january/?noredirect=on.
King, Ledyard. “Democrats Accuse Zinke of Breaking No-Drill Pledge for Florida; Interior Dept. Disagrees.” Naples Daily News, Naples, 20 Jan. 2018, www.naplesnews.com/story/news/environment/2018/01/19/democrats-accuse-ryan-zinke-breaking-no-drill-pledge-florida-interior-dept-disagrees/1050202001/.
Kolbert, Elizabeth. “The Damage Done by Trump’s Department of the Interior.” The New Yorker, The New Yorker, 13 Jan. 2018, www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/01/22/the-damage-done-by-trumps-department-of-the-interior.
Stracqualursi, Veronica, and Lissette Rodriguez. “Ryan Zinke: Everything You Need to Know about the New Interior Secretary.” ABC News, ABC News Network, 1 Mar. 2017, abcnews.go.com/Politics/donald-trumps-interior-secretary-pick-ryan-zinke/story?id=44176934.