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UCS Report: Trump And Zinke Making Science Inferior At the Interior

posted Dec 14, 2018, 7:02 AM by Rahni Sumler   [ updated Dec 14, 2018, 7:07 AM ]
Reposted from ClimateDenier Roundup, Daily Kos Community at Daily Kos 

The Union of Concerned Scientists released a report yesterday detailing how science is under siege at the Department of Interior. This is not going to be welcome news for Secretary Zinke. He’s already fending off calls for his resignation by Rep. Grijalva, who will chair the House committee that oversees DOI in the upcoming Congress.

New Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee: Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, D-Ariz

Raul Grijalva Official Portrait, 2015

Rep. Raúl Grijalva will be assuming the office in January 2019. He has stated: "The American people need an Interior Department focused on addressing climate change, enhancing public recreation, protecting endangered species, and upholding the sovereign rights of Native American communities. ... — they are enshrined in law and supported by voters. The department needs someone accountable at the helm who believes in this mission. Mr. Zinke is not that person. Federal agencies cannot function without credible leadership, and he offers none. He needs to resign." 

Image from US Congress [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
And there will be plenty to look into. On day one of the Trump administration, for example, the DOI’s Twitter feed fell silent on climate--a stark change from its regular climate content. That’s the first of dozens of examples, which range from relatively benign omissions like not saying climate on Twitter, to more dangerous ones like when Secretary Zinke and his staff canceled a study on the health impacts of coal mining after lifting a moratorium on leasing public lands for coal mining.

Replacing Climate Analysts with Fossil Fuel Lobbyists: New Report will help Congress hold DOI Leadership Accountable

Then there was the staff shuffling which forced climate expert Dr. Joel Clement to cash fossil fuel checks until he quit while at the same time brought on political appointees with deep ties to the fossil fuel industry: from a press secretary (Heather Swift) who worked for the fossil fuel PR group famed for its astroturf efforts (DCI), to a former Koch lackey Todd Wynn leading external affairs, to Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt, whose career as a fossil fuel lobbyist has made him a walking conflict of interest. 

Well, the joke’s on Zinke. Now Clement is working with UCS, and wrote a post for Scientific American summarizing the UCS report.

As Clement concludes, the incoming Democratic House is going to be using reports like these as a roadmap to guide their investigations. By forcing Clement out, Zinke made an enemy of someone who can draw the map for congressional investigators to follow and find where all the climate science bodies are buried, so to speak.

Then again, rumor has it Zinke’s going to turn tail and retreat before too long. (After all, his response to Grijalva was to call him a drunk, which is usually not something you would do to someone you expect to have subpoena power over you in just a couple months.)

Zinke’s exit will be good news--except for the little fact that the man set to replace him is a former fossil fuel lobbyist who has so many conflicts of interest he literally has to carry around a list of all his former lobbying clients he can’t deal with now.

And that makes him a card-carrying member of the swamp Trump tricked voters into believing he’d drain.

Call to Action: Union of Concerned Scientists' Action Tips

The report had recommended actions for Congress, scientists, science supporters, partners of public lands and even the outdoor industry. For scientists and science supporters specifically, they recommend:
  • Bring attention DOI activities that sidelines sciences, threatened public lands or public health
  • Contact representatives in Congress 
  • Submitting opinion pieces to local newspapers

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