Frank Bernheisel: The View From Here
Frank Bernheisel
Frank Bernheisel
Posted 1.25.18
Just Outside Washington


Zinke's first year in office

I do not like thee, Doctor Fell,
The reason why -- I cannot tell;
But this I know, and know full well,
I do not like thee, Doctor Fell

Ryan Zinke is an educated man, with a degree in geology from the University of Oregon, an M.B.A. and an M.S. in global leadership. He had a 22-year career in the U.S. Navy and retired with the rank of commander.

After improperly billing the government for personal travel expenses, Zinke received a Fitness Report in 1999 that blocked him from being promoted to a commanding officer position, or to the rank of captain.

Since then he spent four years as a State Senator and two years as the Congressman for Montana. Also, he did a little business in the oil and gas industry.

Since his appointment and confirmation as U.S. Secretary of the Interior, he has:

  • Recommended slashing the size of several national monuments, including Bears Ears, in Utah, and Gold Butte, in Nevada, and lifting restrictions at others to allow more development;
  • Overturned a moratorium on new leases for coal mines on public land;
  • Proposed gutting the plan to protect the endangered sage grouse; instead of protecting ten million acres the bird's preservation, he'd like to see them given over to mining;
  • Moved to scrap Obama-era regulations that would have set more stringent standards for fracking on federal property;
  • Rescinded the policy that banned the use of lead bullets and lead fishing tackle in national wildlife refuges;
  • Recommended lifting the import ban on elephant and other big-game trophies from Zambia and Zimbabwe to the U.S.;
  • Declared that thirty per cent of the Interior employees were not loyal to the flag, by which he seemed to mean himself;
  • Called for the elimination of 4,000 jobs from the Interior Department and supported cutting the departments budget by 13.4 per cent and the Department has a $12 Billion infrastructure repair backlog;
  • Ordered 50 Interior members of the Senior Executive Service to be reassigned, "forcing many into jobs for which they had little experience and that were in different locations."
  • Tapped $40,000 from wildfire preparedness fund to pay for a helicopter trip so he could go horseback riding with Mike Pence;
  • Published the plan in the Federal Register, which initiated the formal rule-making process, for opening all coastal waters to off-shore drilling.
In October, the Interior Department's inspector general opened an investigation into Zinke's travel expenses, which include $12,000 for a charter flight from Las Vegas to Kalispell, Montana, on a plane owned by executives of a Wyoming oil-and-gas company and other charter flights.

This travel expense thing, has a familiar ring, and the cash register goes Cha Ching, Cha Ching.