Zinke’s tenure at the Interior Department was not lengthy, but the damage he inflicted will be long-lasting.

1 minute read

December 31, 2018, 11:00 AM PST

By Camille Fink

Ryan Zinke

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Sarah Greenberger, a former Department of the Interior employee, considers Secretary Ryan Zinke’s time as the head of the agency as the beleaguered cabinet member prepares to depart at the end of the year.

The role of the secretary is to manage national parks, wildlife refuges, and almost 250 million acres of public land used for a variety of recreational, grazing, and energy development purposes. "The secretary of the interior shoulders an awesome responsibility to steward much of what most defines us as Americans: our iconic landscapes, treasured wildlife, abundant resources, historic landmarks, and sacred obligations to our nation’s first peoples," notes Greenberger. 

But, Greenberger says, Zinke has betrayed the mission of the Interior Department by rolling back environmental protection statutes, gutting conservation agreements, and promoting oil drilling and mining on public land.

"For those of us charged with protecting wildlife and nature, it has been a harrowing 21 months. For those of us who know the devoted professionals who make the department work, it’s been heartbreaking. Under the guise of 'efficiency,' Zinke took systematic steps to dismantle the agency — stripping it of leadership and creating a culture of fear," writes Greenberger.

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