|Ryan Zinke, the interior secretary, visited Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park, Colo. (NY Times photo) |
Coral Davenport and Nicholas Fandos for the NY Times:
WASHINGTON — Ryan Zinke, a former member of the Navy SEALs and lifelong Montana outdoorsman who now heads the Interior Department, loves to compare himself to Theodore Roosevelt, the father of American conservation.
“I’m a Teddy Roosevelt guy!” the interior secretary said in an April announcement that he would commence a review of
the boundaries of the nation’s national monuments. “No one loves public lands more than I do.”
But as the secretary hopscotches across millions of acres of Western parks, monuments and wilderness with his Stetson-sporting swagger, a crew of political appointees in Washington has begun rolling back the conservation efforts put in effect over the eight years of the Obama administration.
Many of those appointees spent the Obama years working for the oil and gas industry — and they come to the Interior Department with an insider’s knowledge of how its levers work and a wish list of policies from their former employers.
Their work has been swift. Mr. Zinke’s staff on Tuesday filed a legal proposal to rescind the nation’s first safety regulation on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. They are exploring a proposal to loosen safety rules on underwater drilling equipment put in place after the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. They have rolled back an Obama-era order to block coal mining on public lands and delayed carrying out a regulation controlling emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, from oil and gas wells.
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