Interior Secretary Says 30 Percent of Staff “Not Loyal to the Flag”
In a speech delivered yesterday to the National Petroleum Council, a body comprised of 200 representatives of the oil and natural gas industry selected by the Department of Energy to advise on any matter pertaining to oil and natural gas, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke decried the lack of loyalty to himself and to President Trump, according to reports by the Associated Press.
Zinke used the analogy of a pirate ship, suggesting that the Interior Department is similar to capturing “a prized ship at sea and only the captain and the first mate row over to complete the work of seizing the vessel’s spoils.
“I got 30 percent of the crew that’s not loyal to the flag,” Zinke said, conceding that, “we do have good people” at the agency, before adding, “but the direction has to be clear and you’ve got to hold people accountable.”
Zinke and the Interior Department have been in the news numerous times in recent months, with questions raised about various contentious decisions, including the relocation of an unusual number of senior executives -- which prompted accusations of silencing climate change-related efforts within the agency – and the announced efforts to shrink certain federal monuments, as well as decreasing the limitations on the sorts of activities permissible within federal lands, including potential energy exploration.
To combat what he sees as an overly burdensome deregulatory process, Zinke said, “Push your generals where the fight is,” saying that he sought to move both the Interior Department’s decision-making and a number of sub-agencies (such as the Bureau of Land Management) outside of Washington, D.C.
“It’s going to be huge,” Zinke said. “I really can’t change the culture without changing the structure.”
Zinke also specifically noted the administration’s desire to speed up the permitting process for energy development, claiming, “The president wants it yesterday. We have to do it by the law.”
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