New website highlights ethical lapses, escalating attacks on public lands
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARCH 1, 2018
DENVER—On the first anniversary of Ryan Zinke’s swearing-in as Interior Secretary, the Center for Western Priorities released an updated website tracking Zinke’s dirty deals at Interior.
The site, zinkesdirtydeals.com, catalogs Zinke’s attacks on national parks and monuments, complaints about unethical and unprofessional conduct, and his pattern of putting fossil fuel interests over safety and the environment.
“Ryan Zinke name-dropped Teddy Roosevelt more than a half-dozen times during his confirmation hearing,” said Jennifer Rokala, executive director at the Center for Western Priorities. “Now, one year later, it’s obvious that Zinke has done more to dismantle Roosevelt’s conservation legacy than any Interior Secretary in history.”
“Even James Watt, who famously promised to ‘mine more, drill more, cut more timber,’ didn’t dare attack the Antiquities Act and America’s national monuments in the way Zinke has,” Rokala added.
Among the revelations that have come out of numerous Freedom of Information Act requests filed over the last year is that Zinke’s “Teddy Roosevelt” persona is itself a “clear and concise brand” created by his press secretary, Heather Swift, who bragged in her resume that her creation led to praise from “the energy sector, sportsmen’s groups, natural resources trade associations, and traditionally left-leaning conservation organizations alike.”
“If there’s one thing people will take away after seeing the list of Zinke’s dirty deals, it’s that he’s no Teddy Roosevelt,” Rokala added.
Among the more than three dozen dirty deals highlighted on CWP’s website are Zinke’s questionable travel practices, and his accusation that a third of his employees at Interior are “not loyal to the flag.” Just last week, two USGS scientists resigned in protest after Zinke demanded early access to scientific reports on oil and gas reserves, breaking Interior ethics guidelines.
Zinke has also shown a repeated willingness to stretch the truth, including a whopper that was just rated “False” by PolitiFact, in which Zinke tried to take credit for a drop in gas prices that actually took place under President Obama. He defended his attempts to shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase‚ÄìEscalante National Monuments with a stunning series of misleading claims to Fox Business and the Wall Street Journal. An earlier statement that America struggled to produce “low-cost, abundant and reliable energy” earned four Pinocchios from the Washington Post Fact Checker.
Last week, scientists announced the discovery of one of the densest collections of Triassic-period fossils in the world, in an area of Bears Ears National Monument that lost protection when President Trump and Secretary Zinke attempted to shrink the monument boundaries. Litigation over the monument order will continue to cast a shadow as Secretary Zinke begins his second year at Interior.