After failing to consult with governors or lawyers, the Interior Secretary has to withdraw plans yet again
Last week, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was forced to backtrack, having gone too far and too fast on three proposals that were overly ambitious and unpopular.
Is Secretary Zinke getting ahead of himself? The Interior Department is tasked with balancing energy development and conservation of America’s natural heritage — a job that requires diligence and painstaking processes. However, Secretary Zinke has repeatedly attempted to implement unprecedented plans without consultation from lawyers, governors, or Congress, then quickly reversed after intense push back. As Representative Raul Grijalva put it, “He’s in over his head.”
The lack of consultation during Secretary Zinke’s push to roll back common sense energy policies is forcing him to walk back his schemes.
The Interior Department is obligated by law to consult with governors and congressional delegations as a part of a deliberative process before allowing drilling. In an unprecedented move, Secretary Zinke announced plans to open up nearly the entire U.S. coast to offshore oil and gas drilling in a series of giant lease sales. A few days later, the Secretary tweeted out a photo of himself and Florida Governor Rick Scott, saying he would exempt Florida from the offshore drilling plan, claiming Florida’s coasts were “unique and heavily reliant on tourism.”
Almost immediately, a bipartisan chorus of 15 governors from nearly all the coastal states opposed the plan and called for their states to also be exempt from drilling. A dozen attorneys general from coastal states signed a letter to Secretary Zinke urging him to cancel the entire drilling proposal, threatening to “unquestionably” sue if he moved forward. On top of that, Axios reported that Secretary Zinke’s actions took the White House by surprise, paving the way for lawsuits.
To clean up the mess he made, Secretary Zinke decided that he would meet with every coastal governor to discuss the status of their state. Last week, the Secretary met with California Governor Jerry Brown “regarding the state’s strong opposition to the federal government’s decision to expand oil and gas drilling off of California’s coast.” The series of events led the Washington Post editorial board to ask the question: Is Ryan Zinke cynical or incompetent? “I think Incompetent is the clear choice for Dinky Zinke!!!” ~ R.T.
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