Horse News

Monumental Disaster at the Department of the Interior

By Joel Clement as published on The Scientific American

A new report documents suppression of science, denial of climate change, the silencing and intimidation of staff

This is a tough time to be a federal scientist—or any civil servant in the federal government. The Trump administration is clamping down on science, denying dangerous climate change and hollowing out the workforces of the agencies charged with protecting American health, safety and natural resources.

At the Department of the Interior (DOI), with its mission to conserve and manage America’s natural and cultural resources, the Trump administration’s political appointees are stumbling over one another to earn accolades for disabling agency operations. I should know; I was one of dozens of senior executives targeted by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke for reassignment in a staff purge just six months into the new administration.

From that day onward, Zinke and his political staff have consistently sidelined scientists and experts while handing the agency’s keys over to oil, gas and mining interests. The only saving grace is that Zinke and his colleagues are not very good at it, and in many cases the courts are stopping them in their tracks. The effects on science, scientists and the federal workforce, however, will be long-lasting.


In a new report, Science Under Siege at the Department of the Interior, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has documented some of the most egregious and anti-science policies and practices at the DOI under Secretary Zinke. The report describes suppression of science, denial of climate change, the silencing and intimidation of agency staff, and attacks on science-based laws that help protect our nation’s world-class wildlife and habitats.

It is a damning report and required reading for anyone who values public lands, wildlife, cultural heritage, and health and safety.

It would be impossible to cover everything this clumsy political wrecking crew is up to, but the report provides details on the most prominent actions that deserve greater scrutiny, such as: the largest reduction in public lands protection in our nation’s history; a systematic failure to acknowledge or act on climate change; unprecedented constraints on the funding and communication of science; and a blatant disregard for public health and safety.

Why is this administration so scared of science? Why cancel a study into the health effects of mountaintop removal coal mining so soon after lifting a moratorium on coal leasing on public lands? Why keep scientists from speaking with the press? Because, while science provides the best evidence we have for making policy decisions that serve the broader public, Ryan Zinke has been very clear that he is in office to serve the oil, gas and mining industries, not the general public.


It is challenging to keep up with the relentless attacks on science coming from Secretary Zinke and his team of political appointees. Since the finalization of UCS’s report, we have seen Secretary Zinke blame “radical environmental groups” as the cause of wildfires, with no mention of climate change, which scientists know is creating the conditions for bigger, hotter, more ferocious fires. Like President Trump, he continues to suggest that poor forest management is the real reason for the deadly fires, regardless of whether they occur in suburbs or shrublands, far from federally managed forests. His ignorance of science is perhaps only surpassed by that of his boss.

It has also recently come to light that DOI has taken steps to roll back protections for individuals impacted the most by the agency’s anti-science actions. In November, it was reported that DOI rescinded two environmental justice policy memos that were put in place over 20 years ago to reverse decades of environmental racism and the marginalization of low-income communities. This is an affront to Native American communities suffering from the ongoing impacts of fossil fuel development.

Zinke’s disdain for science was on display again the day after Thanksgiving, when the Trump administration quietly released two groundbreaking climate reports that featured the work of DOI scientists: the 2018 National Climate Assessment (NCA) and a report on the greenhouse-gas emissions produced from fossil fuel development on federal lands. The NCA describes a stark future for the United States if climate change is left unchecked: destructive sea-level rise, long-lasting droughts, infectious disease outbreaks and crippling economic costs. The federal lands emissions report pointed out that carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels produced on federal lands represent nearly 24% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. These are vitally important reports sounding a clarion call that climate action on federal lands is essential to the safety and well-being of the American public.

How did Zinke respond? With the standard anti-science lies being trotted out by Trump and others in the administration. Like his colleagues, Zinke claimed that the NCA was based only on extreme scenarios, when in fact it considered a broad range of emissions scenarios; he also claimed that the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) at DOI had “concerns” with the NCA when in fact dozens of USGS staff, as well as scientists from other DOI bureaus, were co-authors and contributors to the report. Apparently he didn’t have time to get to the other administration talking point about how climate scientists are just trying to get rich off of their work—a laughable assertion for anyone familiar with the compensation afforded to scientists who volunteer to contribute to such reports. He had nothing at all to say about the federal lands emissions report that was produced entirely within DOI…(CONTINUED)

8 replies »

  1. We have all seen our Wild Horses & Burros and their Legal Habitats destroyed by this agency also…they are “partners”

    This is just one of the many categories listed:


    Agency: US Forest Service
    Records Involving:

    Wildland Fire Management
    Wildfire Prevention
    Wildfire Response
    Timber Sale and Associate Road Development Cost Analysis
    Safety and Occupational Health
    Silvicultural Practices
    Radiation Safety
    Water Resource Management

    Destroy: 5, 10, 25. 30, and 50 years
    NARA’s Decision: Approval recommended
    Deadline NARA gave me for submitting comments: December 3, 2018
    PDFs: 8 proposals and appraisals



    Agency: US Forest Service
    Records Involving:

    Pesticide Use, Management and Coordination
    Suitability Requirements, Training, and Standards
    Energy Management
    Publicly Managed Recreation Opportunities
    Trail, River, and Similar Recreation Opportunities
    Waste Prevention, Recycling, and Acquisition
    Timber Appraisals

    Destroy: 5, 10, 20, 30, and 75 years
    NARA’s Decision: Approval recommended
    Deadline NARA gave me for submitting comments: October 8, 2018
    PDF: 10 requests and appraisals


  3. APPROVAL RECOMMENDED? I guess the future generations who have no trees, no minerals, no water, and must live indoors won’t even be able to know these things once existed, and belonged to all of us.

    It takes a highly cynical world view to want to even destroy the records future historians would otherwise be able to “mine” as its own public resource. Data mining is a well known form of industry now, so why would these records not be considered valuable? Heck, the government could even sell leases to allow mining certain topics, and it might even be profitable!


  4. Devil’s Garden Wild Horse Emergency Rescue–SAVE the DG 300 from Slaughter! Facebook

    Carla Bowers

    URGENT ALERT: Just learned that the Modoc FS will start selling the older (over 10) DG horses at the DDC for $1/horse, up to 24 horses/day, still WITH limitations, starting next week, 12/17/18. This is a very disturbing development that could trigger sales to unscrupulous buyers who know how to get around the WITH limitations requirement. It’s obvious that the FS places NO value on California’s incredible Devil’s Garden wild horses. Please contact whoever you can to help safely place the remaining 200+ older DG horses & some 7-9 year olds at the DDC asap. Thank you, all!
    Please check out the “Albums” at the DDC FB page under “Photos” for more pix of the available DG horses at the Corrals. Also, check out some of the posts about the adopters/purchasers stories:


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