Two peas in a pod
To quote a couple of cliche's, “Birds of a feather flock together,” and “They're like two peas in a pod.” That's about the only way you can describe Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.
Both are doing the jobs they were hired to do by a president that is bent on tearing down everything Obama. Both are lackeys for the oil and gas industry, both are using taxpayer dollars as their personal bank accounts and both are undermining the agencies they were chosen to lead.
Pruitt never has liked the EPA and once said he was “against the EPA's activist agenda,” and boasted about how many times he's sued the EPA. While he was Attorney General here in Oklahoma, he served as carrier and submitted a letter drafted by Devon Energy to the EPA that questioned federal estimates of air pollution caused by gas drilling in the state.
The list of oil and gas industry companies that have contributed to Pruitt over the years is too lengthy to list here. He was the chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association in 2012 and 2013 and later sat on the association's executive committee, whose goal was to elect Republicans as state attorney's general. Nothing wrong with wanting to do that, but the goal of the group was to take on 17 state attorneys general who had the gall to stand up to energy companies that were spouting negatives about climate.
In 2014, a New York Times article discussed how he and the other Republican Attorney Generals formed a “secretive alliance” with energy companies to “push back” on the Obama administration regulations. This group was funded by the likes of Exxon Mobile, Devon Energy and Koch Industries (the folks that are pretty much running the country now).
It's not enough that he is now rolling back regulations that are designed to keep Americans safe, he doesn't mind spending my money and your money on travel, pay raises and security for himself, things that have both sides of the political aisle raising their eyebrows and grilling him about whether or not he has violated ethics rules.
He's done things like get around-the-clock security that requires 18 security personnel, triple the number of previous EPA administrators; signed a nearly $43,000 contract to construct a sound proof privacy booth in his office so he can have private conversations; spent taxpayer money for trips from Washington, D.C. To New York and round trip tickets to Italy ($7,000); a trip to Morocco to promote natural gas exports ($16,217), not to mention several charter and military flights to U.S. locations ($58,000). I don't have room to list them all.
There is also the staff raises, which, at first, he knew nothing about, and then later admitted he did, but didn't know how much, but threw his chief of staff under the bus to take the blame for authorizing the raises, but by golly they like him in the White House because he is rolling back those protective regulations.
By the way, Pruitt's trip to Morocco was to promote liquified natural gas and importing it from Cheniere Energy, where a gentleman by the name of Carl Icahn has controlling interest. It was Carl Icahn who got Pruitt his job, and despite all this and as of today, he still has the job.
Zinke? Well Zinke is attempting to auction off as many leases as he can on historic sites and national parks. He recently proposed a lease sale of 25 parcels of land covering over 4,000 acres in New Mexico's Rio Arriba, Sandoval and San Juan counties, located near the Chaco Culture National Historical Park, a sacred tribal site.
It was put on hold after a flood of protests. I said put on hold. That doesn't mean he won't try again.
He's already attacked the Bear's Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, cutting thousands of acres from those areas. Never mind what the tribes have to say about sacred grounds. Besides, President Trump wants to do away with the sovereignty of the tribes anyway.
All this is done in the name of searching for oil and natural gas, or even coal if it ever becomes viable again. If you look closely, you'll probably see a similar list of energy companies that have slipped money into Zinke's back pocket as those linked to Pruitt. But that's not enough because Zinke has wasted about as much taxpayer money as Pruitt.
The sad part is that even though these two men are doing exactly the opposite of what their jobs call for, and will likely throw us back into the days of black smoke boiling out of smokestacks and coal ash being dumped in streams, their actions are actually enabled by many.