The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Zinke Caught Raising Political Funds During Taxpayer-Funded Trips
Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke, who is being investigated for his use of private planes on the taxpayer dime, is under fresh scrutiny for "mixing political gatherings ... during official business."
According to Interior travel records and other documents seen by POLITICO, the secretary has met with GOP donors and political groups more than a half-dozen times while on taxpayer-funded department trips, including a local Republican Party fundraiser in the U.S. Virgin Islands where donors paid up to $5,000 per couple for a photo-op with Zinke.
"Ethics watchdogs say Zinke is combining politics with his Interior duties so frequently that he risks tripping over the prohibitions against using government resources for partisan activity," POLITCO reports.
Zinke's trips do not appear to break the law. For instance, his visit to the U.S. Virgin Islands from March 30 to April 1 was an official trip related to the Interior Dept.'s role overseeing the U.S. territory.
But House Democrats criticized the secretary in a letter sent Tuesday that stated that Zinke's travels "give the appearance that you are mixing political gatherings and personal destinations with official business."
Zinke has spent about $20,000 on three charter flights since taking office in March but has dismissed the criticisms as "a little B.S."
Meanwhile, the former Montana Congressman has also been on blast by whistleblower Joel Clement, a senior official at the Interior Dept. The climate change expert, who was reassigned by Zinke to a completely unrelated office that oversees fees and royalty checks from oil and gas companies, has resigned from his position.
"Retaliating against civil servants for raising health and safety concerns is unlawful, but there are many items to add to your resume of failure," Clement wrote to Zinke.
Those failures include "muzzling scientists and policy experts," an "arbitrary and sloppy review of our treasured National Monuments," targeting an Obama-era conservation plan for the greater sage grouse, and compromising tribal sovereignty.
"Secretary Zinke, your agenda profoundly undermines the [Interior Department's] mission and betrays the American people," he wrote.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
The Centers for Disease Control has emphasized that washing hands with soap and water is one of the most effective measures we can take in preventing the spread of COVID-19. However, millions of Americans in some of the most vulnerable communities face the prospect of having their water shut off during the lockdowns, according to The Guardian.
Aerial photos of the Sierra Nevada — the long mountain range stretching down the spine of California — showed rust-colored swathes following the state's record-breaking five-year drought that ended in 2016. The 100 million dead trees were one of the most visible examples of the ecological toll the drought had wrought.
Now, a few years later, we're starting to learn about how smaller, less noticeable species were affected.
Natthawat / Moment / Getty Images
Disinfectants and cleaners claiming to sanitize against the novel coronavirus have started to flood the market, raising concerns for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which threatened legal recourse against retailers selling unregistered products, according to The New York Times.
The global coronavirus pandemic has thrown our daily routine into disarray. Billions are housebound, social contact is off-limits and an invisible virus makes up look at the outside world with suspicion. No surprise, then, that sustainability and the climate movement aren't exactly a priority for many these days.
By Molly Matthews Multedo
Livestock farming contributes to global warming, so eating less meat can be better for the climate.