A Department of the Interior (DOI) official who played an important role in opening public lands to fossil fuel interests has left the federal government to accept a job at BP, The Washington Post reported Monday.
Former DOI Deputy Chief of Staff Downey Magallanes led the review that resulted in Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke's plan to shrink the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Utah by 85 and 46 percent respectively, Think Progress pointed out.
"Her prior work on behalf of oil, gas and coal, her family's ties to the coal industry, and the fact that she is headed to BP all point in one direction: that she came to Interior with an agenda to promote fossil fuel development over the interest of the American public," Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance legal director Stephen Bloch told The Washington Post in an email.
Documents made public in March and June confirmed that allowing access to coal, oil and gas reserves was a large part of the decision to reduce the monuments' size, as was enabling mining, Think Progress reported.
The Trump administration's ethics pledge bans former employees from lobbying either their former agencies or anyone in the executive branch for five years after departure, but anonymous sources told The Washington Post that Magallanes will work with Congress. BP has confirmed she will be part of its government affairs team.
Magallanes met three times with BP officials between Jan. 30 and Aug. 31, 2017 while working for DOI, according to an official calendar obtained using the Freedom of Information Act.
On March 16, 2017 she met with BP government and regulatory affairs division officials and on April 25 she met with both BP Exploration (Alaska) and members of the Western Energy Alliance including Colorado-based BP government affairs official Sam Knaizer.
Magallanes' departure was announced by E&E news Aug. 24, according to Think Progress.
"Downey was an incredible asset and I trusted her to carry out some of the Administration's highest priority projects," Zinke said in a statement reported by The Washington Post. "She will be missed in our office and I wish her all the best."
Magallanes also spoke with excitement about her work at BP, which will begin after Labor Day.
"I am grateful to Secretary Zinke and President Trump for giving me the chance to serve in the Department of the Interior," she said in an email to The Washington Post. "I look forward to this incredible new opportunity with BP."
Meanwhile, Native American and environmental groups are fighting in court to reverse the shrinking of the Utah monuments.
"We'll be working to undo that mischief long after she's gone," Bloch told The Washington Post.
Zinke Caught in Conflict of Interest With Oil Giant Halliburton https://t.co/pe4TCHcHy0 #zinke @foe_us @DeSmogBlog… https://t.co/Qu3TziQ4pL— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1529500708.0
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
waterlust.com / @oceanraysphotography
Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.