Zinke’s Departure an Opportunity to Undo Damage at DOI

Statement by Adam Markham, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Dec 17, 2018 Updated Aug 22, 2019

WASHINGTON (December 17, 2018)—Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke will resign his position. The departure of the controversial secretary offers the Trump administration a chance to change course and undo the mistakes of Zinke’s tenure, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Below is a statement by Adam Markham, deputy director of the Climate and Energy Program at UCS.

“Ryan Zinke was simply the wrong choice for Interior secretary. He came in with big promises, but quickly broke them. Under Zinke’s watch, DOI leadership targeted the agency’s own staff and undermined its scientists. He ignored climate science, rolled back vital protections for public lands and endangered species and turned the agency’s headquarters into a hotbed of self-dealing, mismanagement, and conflicts of interest.

“The Department of the Interior plays a vital role in managing public lands and parks, protecting ecosystems, and working with Native American tribes. Under Zinke, those responsibilities have fallen by the wayside as political leaders focused on expanding drilling and mining as fast as possible.

“Now that Secretary Zinke is leaving, it’s time to turn the page. The Department needs a leader who will re-focus its efforts on science, conservation, and protecting the interests of the public, unlike Secretary Zinke who put his allies in the oil, gas and mining industries first. The next secretary of the Interior must demonstrate that they have no conflicts of interest and commit to remedying the damage that’s been done. And Congress needs to pursue its constitutional duty of providing oversight.”

Secretary Zinke’s tenure at DOI was the subject of a recent report by UCS, Science Under Siege at the Department of the Interior.