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Brief # 31—-Environmental Policy


Earlier this month, Department of the Interior head, Ryan Zinke, a self-declared geologist,  faced a senate hearing to address his proposed 2019 budget. However, this hearing may expand to include his numerous scandals. The former Navy SEAL seems to have a pattern of travel fraud. In addition, reports show that he has nominated an oil industry lobbyist for the DOI regulatory rollback advisor, allowed trophy hunters to lead a panel governing animal imports, and failed to reveal his shares in a gun organization.  Zinke has managed to avoid public scrutiny, partially because of  the current investigations in and coverage of EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt.


The Department of the Interior is in charge of managing the conservation of federal lands and natural resources, and Ryan Zinke was appointed as Secretary last year. While there is surprisingly little coverage on what ensued during Zinke’s recent hearing on May 10, 2018, there is an expectation that Zinke’s questionable behavior will be more thoroughly examined by the Senate. Prior to his role, Zinke was a state senator in Montana, giving rise to allegations that he has taken a pro-development stance in every state except Montana, possibly to save jobs. This may be in violation of the D.O.I.’s ethics rules. Furthermore, Zinke’s pattern of travel fraud is said to have cost taxpayers at least $84,000[1], with one instance of Zinke even charging the D.O.I. for he and his wife’s private security detail on a family vacation to Greece and Turkey. Theoretically, this laundry list of scandals could beg the question of whether or not Zinke is fit to lead the Department of the Interior, but given that no coverage has been applied to the matter, it appears that nothing has changed and all is running as it were.

Take Action

Get involved with the fight to save the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which was created by congress in 1964 and is set to expire in September 2018. Check out the LWCF Coalition to become engaged

Keep checking in with the Sierra Club—the most influential grassroots conservation group in America–to stay up to date on many high-profile initiatives to protect the environment  

Learn more about the timeline of Zinke’s Ethics Scandals

Learn More about the Tension Between the DOI and EPA

This Brief was submitted by USRESIST NEWS Analyst Zoe Stricker:


[1] Costs compiled from The Intercept, Politico Media Matters and Climate Nexus

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