• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

CounterPunch needs you. piggybank-icon You need us. The cost of keeping the site alive and running is growing fast, as more and more readers visit. We want you to stick around, but it eats up bandwidth and costs us a bundle. Help us reach our modest goal (we are half way there!) so we can keep CounterPunch going. Donate today!
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Raising the Flag on the Corruption of Ryan Zinke

The media’s been swirling around the many scandals involving Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt, and rightfully so. But there’s another scandalous member of Trump’s cabinet who’s bending ethical standards and attacking our environment: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

Like Pruitt, Ryan Zinke is misusing taxpayer dollars, promoting industries he’s supposed to regulate, and remaining completely opaque when it comes to decision-making. He deserves as much media and congressional scrutiny as Pruitt.

The Interior Department is supposed to be the steward of our country’s “lands, water, wildlife, and energy resources,” according to its mission statement. But Zinke’s actions toward U.S. national parks and public lands show where his alliances truly rest: with the fossil fuel industry.

Though he’s tried to play himself as a serious outdoorsman — even as he’s incorrectly rigging a fly fishing rod or wearing a National Park Service hat backwards — Zinke has made clear his real mission is to drill and extract all over public lands.

He’s lifted a moratorium on leasing federal lands for coal mining, allowing the coal industry to exploit public resources while giving taxpayers pennies on the dollar. He’s weakened fracking safety standards for public lands. And he’s taken the first steps toward opening the sensitive coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling.

Zinke is risking our economy, ecosystems, and gateway communities around our parks with his unilateral decisions to put profit and pollution over public health.

What’s more, Zinke is also working with Trump on the largest rollback to national monument boundaries and declarations in U.S. history. He’s recommended essentially eliminating Utah’s beautiful Bears Ears National Monument, home to sacred sites and areas of tremendous cultural importance for at least five Native American tribes.

And if his attacks on the environment aren’t enough, Zinke also has a host of ethical problems — including questionable travel expenses with private jets and helicopter rides paid for with wildfire-fighting funding. In fact, there have been at least four internal investigations reviewing Zinke’s tenure at Interior.

He even tried to spend $139,000 in taxpayer money on doors for his office. And he forces staff to raise a special flag for him every time he enters the Interior Department building — seriously — and then take it down when he leaves.

More seriously, Zinke has falsely claimed to be a geologist at least 40 times, including in congressional testimony to support his environmental rollbacks.

Finally, Zinke has created a hostile environment in the workplace. He’s told staff that diversity isn’t important. He’s transferred women, Native Americans, blacks, and Latinos out of their jobs in an attempt to get them to quit. (And on his radio show in 2013, he supported the racist idea that President Obama wasn’t born in the United States.)

Ryan Zinke isn’t interested in what’s best for national parks and public lands. He should be removed, or he should step down immediately.

When he testifies before two congressional committees this month, I hope those members of Congress will hold him accountable. His decisions will have irreversible impacts, but it’s not too late to try and clean up the mess he’s already made.

Lena Moffitt is the senior director of the Sierra Club’s Our Wild America campaign.

Distributed by OtherWords.org.

More articles by:

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

May 27, 2019
John Grant
Congress is Being Punked: Will They Find Their Backbone?
Robert Fisk
The Evidence We Were Never Meant to See About the Douma Gas Attack
Basav Sen
The Terrifying Global Implications of Modi’s Re-Election
Peter Certo
Pardoning War Criminals is a Terrible Way to Honor Veterans
Howard Lisnoff
When War Crimes are Pardoned
Joe Emersberger
Guillaume Long on Ecuadorian President Moreno’s betrayal of Assange and the Citizens Revolution
Binoy Kampmark
Monsanto, Scientific Deception and Cancer
Elizabeth Keyes
Demonstrating for Assange in NYC or Life on Pluto
Mike Ferner
Another Empire’s Boot Stomps on Ireland
Lizzett Talavera
Toward a Culture of Animal Protection in Cuba
Ed Sanders
Monsanto is Evil: a Glyph
Elliot Sperber
The Snow Leopards of Central Park 
Weekend Edition
May 24, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
Iran, Venezuela and the Throes of Empire
Melvin Goodman
The Dangerous Demise of Disarmament
Jeffrey St. Clair
“The Army Ain’t No Place for a Black Man:” How the Wolf Got Caged
Richard Moser
War is War on Mother Earth
Andrew Levine
The (Small-d) Democrat’s Dilemma
Russell Mokhiber
The Boeing Way: Blaming Dead Pilots
Rev. William Alberts
Gaslighters of God
Phyllis Bennis
The Amputation Crisis in Gaza: a US-Funded Atrocity
David Rosen
21st Century Conglomerate Trusts 
Jonathan Latham
As a GMO Stunt, Professor Tasted a Pesticide and Gave It to Students
Binoy Kampmark
The Espionage Act and Julian Assange
Kathy Deacon
Liberals Fall Into Line: a Recurring Phenomenon
Jill Richardson
The Disparity Behind Anti-Abortion Laws
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Chelsea Manning is Showing Us What Real Resistance Looks Like
Zhivko Illeieff
Russiagate and the Dry Rot in American Journalism
Norman Solomon
Will Biden’s Dog Whistles for Racism Catch Up with Him?
Yanis Varoufakis
The Left Refuses to Get Its Act Together in the Face of Neofascism
Lawrence Davidson
Senator Schumer’s Divine Mission
Thomas Knapp
War Crimes Pardons: A Terrible Memorial Day Idea
Renee Parsons
Dump Bolton before He Starts the Next War
Yves Engler
Canada’s Meddling in Venezuela
Katie Singer
Controlling 5G: A Course in Obstacles
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Beauty of Trees
Jesse Jackson
Extremist Laws, Like Alabama’s, Will Hit Poor Women the Hardest
Andrew Bacevich
The “Forever Wars” Enshrined
Ron Jacobs
Another One Moves On: Roz Payne, Presente!
Christopher Brauchli
The Offal Office
Daniel Falcone
Where the ‘Democratic Left’ Goes to Die: Staten Island NYC and the Forgotten Primaries   
Julia Paley
Life After Deportation
Sarah Anderson
America Needs a Long-Term Care Program for Seniors
Seiji Yamada – John Witeck
Stop U.S. Funding for Human Rights Abuses in the Philippines
Shane Doyle, A.J. Not Afraid and Adrian Bird, Jr.
The Crazy Mountains Deserve Preservation
Charlie Nash
Will Generation Z Introduce a Wizard Renaissance?
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail