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Report: Zinke Plans to Resign, Explores Fox News, Energy Company Boards
Now, the embattled official, who is facing several federal investigations of alleged misconduct, could be on his way out.
POLITICO's sources said that the cabinet official plans to resign as Interior Secretary by the end of the year. They claimed that Zinke reached out to the conservative channel Fox News about potential employment, and also sought positions on energy company boards of directors or private equity firms, according to POLITICO.
The Interior's press secretary denied the report about Zinke seeking a job with Fox News, calling the rumor "laughably false and belongs in The Onion," in reference to the satirical news publication.
A network spokeswoman also told The Hill that "no one at Fox News has spoken to Zinke about a contributor role."
On Friday, Trump said that he has no plans to fire his DOI secretary but was "going to look into any complaints," The Hill reported.
Even if Zinke's future as a Fox News pundit is uncertain, many would be happy to see him out of his government job. Zinke has faced numerous calls for resignation from environmental groups and fellow lawmakers for his anti-environmental policies.
The former Montana congressman spent much of his time at the Interior opening public lands to oil and gas drilling, and was recently linked to a development project with David Lesar, the chairman of the oil giant Halliburton.
Since taking office, Zinke has racked up 17 federal investigations into his behavior, according to the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
Several of the investigations have closed but he is currently the subject of six open investigations by federal agencies and Congress, CREW said.
"After spending nearly the last two years being forced to watch Ryan Zinke sell-out our public lands and break ethical norms and possibly laws, we needed a good laugh," Sierra Club Our Wild America director Lena Moffitt said in a press release in reaction to POLITCO's report. "But as a former representative himself, Zinke shouldn't forget that the House's power of subpoena extends all the way to cable television."
Democratic New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone—who will likely be the new chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee after the Democrats took control over the House after the midterm elections— promised to "conduct vigorous oversight of the Trump Administration so Washington works again for the people not the special interests."
- Interior Department Watchdog: Zinke Family Travel Violated ... ›
- Zinke's heir apparent ready to step in - POLITICO ›
- Secretary Zinke, it's time to call it quits (opinion) - CNN ›
- Ryan Zinke's Neighbor Lands $300 Million Contract to Rebuild ... ›
- Overnight Energy: Dem House means new headache for Zinke ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Patti Lynn
2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."
England faces an "existential threat" if it does not change how it manages its water, the head of the country's Environment Agency warned Tuesday.
By Jessica Corbett
A new analysis revealed Tuesday that over the past two decades heat records across the U.S. have been broken twice as often as cold ones—underscoring experts' warnings about the increasingly dangerous consequences of failing to dramatically curb planet-warming emissions.
By Madison Dapcevich
Ask any resident of San Francisco about the waterfront parrots, and they will surely tell you a story of red-faced conures squawking or dive-bombing between building peaks. Ask a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, however, and they will tell you of a mysterious string of neurological poisonings impacting the naturalized flock for decades.
The initial cause of the fire was not yet known, but it has been driven by the strong wind and jumped the North Santiam River, The Salem Statesman Journal reported. As of Tuesday night, it threatened around 35 homes and 30 buildings, and was 20 percent contained.
The unanimous verdict was announced Tuesday in San Francisco in the first federal case to be brought against Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, alleging that repeated use of the company's glyphosate-containing weedkiller caused the plaintiff's cancer. Seventy-year-old Edwin Hardeman of Santa Rosa, California said he used Roundup for almost 30 years on his properties before developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"Today's verdict reinforces what another jury found last year, and what scientists with the state of California and the World Health Organization have concluded: Glyphosate causes cancer in people," Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement. "As similar lawsuits mount, the evidence will grow that Roundup is not safe, and that the company has tried to cover it up."
Judge Vince Chhabria has split Hardeman's trial into two phases. The first, decided Tuesday, focused exclusively on whether or not Roundup use caused the plaintiff's cancer. The second, to begin Wednesday, will assess if Bayer is liable for damages.
"We are disappointed with the jury's initial decision, but we continue to believe firmly that the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer," Bayer spokesman Dan Childs said in a statement reported by The Guardian. "We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto's conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman's cancer."
Some legal experts said that Chhabria's decision to split the trial was beneficial to Bayer, Reuters reported. The company had complained that the jury in Johnson's case had been distracted by the lawyers' claims that Monsanto had sought to mislead scientists and the public about Roundup's safety.
However, a remark made by Chhabria during the trial and reported by The Guardian was blatantly critical of the company.
"Although the evidence that Roundup causes cancer is quite equivocal, there is strong evidence from which a jury could conclude that Monsanto does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue," he said.
Many regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have ruled that glyphosate is safe for humans, but the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer found it was "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015. A university study earlier this year found that glyphosate use increased cancer risk by as much as 41 percent.
Hardeman's lawyers Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff said they would now reveal Monsanto's efforts to mislead the public about the safety of its product.
"Now we can focus on the evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of Roundup," they wrote in a statement reported by The Guardian.
Hardeman's case is considered a "bellwether" trial for the more than 760 glyphosate cases Chhabria is hearing. In total, there are around 11,200 such lawsuits pending in the U.S., according to Reuters.
University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told Reuters that Tuesday's decision showed that the verdict in Johnson's case was not "an aberration," and could possibly predict how future juries in the thousands of pending cases would respond.