Environment America statement on Interior Secretary Zinke’s departure

Media Contacts
Steve Blackledge

Senior Director, Conservation America Campaign, Environment America Research & Policy Center

Environment America

WASHINGTON — Pres. Donald Trump announced today that Dept. of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will be stepping down from his post by the end of the year. In response, Steve Blackledge, senior director of Environment America’s conservation program, released the following statement:

“It may have been the ethics inquiries that did him in, or perhaps it was always in the cards to do two years, but from where I stand, Secretary Zinke’s biggest failure is that he aspired to be a Teddy Roosevelt conservationist and fell woefully short.

“In May of this year, Secretary Zinke told the National Wild Turkey Federation that he would do a “grand pivot” to conservation. Even if he was legitimately talking turkey, Zinke simply couldn’t pivot this administration away from its pro-drilling, pro-fossil fuel agenda. 

“In his short tenure, Secretary Zinke pushed to expand offshore drilling to 90 percent of America’s coastlines. He led the charge to downsize many of our treasured national monuments and, depending on the courts, may have forever damaged Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. He moved aggressively to start oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And that’s not even the full of it.

“I’m convinced that Zinke does have pro-conservation inclinations somewhere in him. After all, as a Montana congressman he was a big champion of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. But as Interior Secretary, he testified in support of the administration’s budget proposal to nearly end funding for the program.

“The next Interior Secretary would do well to remember that Americans are wild about protecting our natural resources and she or he should make the ‘grand pivot’ to conservation that Zinke never did.”