Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Exclusive: Secretary Ryan Zinke Ready to Restore Trust in the Interior Department
Montana Congressman and former Navy SEAL Ryan Zinke did not know what job his newly elected commander-in-chief had for him when he first visited Trump Tower in December with his wife, Lola, for an interview. “It was 200 shotgun questions,” he said, recalling the moment with the president in an interview with Breitbart News. Trump grilled Zinke on a wide variety of topics such as women in combat, Syrian policy, the rise of China, Indian affairs, pipelines, and energy policies. “It spread the spectrum of subjects,” he said. Trump raised the possibility of his serving as the secretary of Veterans Affairs, but Zinke declined. But as he left the building, he still did not know what Trump wanted him to do. “Two days later, I was flying back to Montana and Vice President Pence calls and says, ‘Congratulations.’ The first thing I asked him was, ‘What job?’” Zinke chuckled. He was delighted to hear that he had been selected to serve as the secretary of the Interior... Zinke outlined plans of a reorganization of the department to shift resources out of Washington, DC, to the front lines, looking forward to the next century of land management. He added that Trump asked him to think big. “We’re going to reorganize the Department of the Interior for the next 100 years,” he said, citing Theodore Roosevelt’s lofty ambitions. Zinke said President Trump would likely focus on managing existing resources before considering his own preservation legacy. In the modern presidency, only Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Richard Nixon chose not to increase the amount of land protected by the federal government. The last president to decrease the amount of acreage was President Dwight Eisenhower. Trump, Zinke said, was already looking at ways to roll back Obama’s last-minute land grabs. “I don’t think it’s in dispute whether he can modify a monument,” Zinke said, referring to the president. “The dispute is whether or not he can nullify it — still untested and unclear in the law.”...During the Obama administration, local conflicts over the use of public lands fueled public frustration in Western states. The Bundy clan took up arms against the government on two different occasions, making headlines as they protested an overbearing government bureaucracy. But Zinke thinks a different attitude from Washington, DC, might prevent that from happening in the first place. “I would say the war is over with the new president and the administration,” he said. “We want to be the good neighbors.” He cited the conclusion of the Dakota Access Pipeline protest in February as an example of how the federal government could work together with local officials to enforce the law and diffuse the situation before it got out of control. “We want to see when we have a law enforcement problem, our first line of defense is the local sheriff,” he said, suggesting that a BLM truck would not be as effective in thwarting people upset with the government...more
Three things are very familiar to me - Moving decision making from DC to the field, streamlining regs, and being a 'good neighbor'. All three were implemented by the Reagan administration, all three were good for the nation then and would be good for us now. But remember, all three were overturned by subsequent administrations. They will not bring permanent change to national policy on federal lands nor to our lives as Westerners.