The interior chief was so comfortable playing the part of an oil man he momentarily forgot he wasn’t one
It was clear Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke felt at home Tuesday addressing representatives of the industry that was a top donor to his congressional campaigns. It’s the same industry that the Trump administration has worked so hard to prop up over the last two years, and that Zinke now regulates as chief steward of America’s natural resources.
“I see a lot of familiar faces,” he told the National Petroleum Council during its meeting in Washington, D.C., before launching into a series of go-to talking points about the importance of producing domestic energy, namely fossil fuels, and downplaying the dire conclusions of a recent federal climate report.
Interior’s “regulatory philosophy” is that the agency must partner with industry because “you are the leading edge of technology,” Zinke told members of the advisory committee.
“We want to embrace better stewardship. We want to embrace reliability. In order to get there, we have to understand the technology. And in order to understand it, quite frankly, we have to work with you,” he said. “I’ve been criticized [for] saying we want to work with you. I’ll take the criticism.”
Zinke was referring to controversial comments he made in September during a keynote speech at the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association’s meeting in Lafayette, Louisiana. “Our government should work for you,” he told the oil and gas trade group, according to a post by the association.
As head of the Interior Department, Zinke oversees some 500 million acres of land, or one-fifth of the United States, and 1.7 billion acres on the Outer Continental Shelf. It’s a job that comes with the sometimes conflicting tasks of preserving and protecting public lands and waters for future generations while also setting the policies that govern extracting natural resources from them.
Zinke has said that he’s succeeded in “striking the right balance,” but conservation efforts have taken a clear backseat as the administration has pushed forward with its “energy dominance” agenda…(CONTINUED)