Interior Department whistleblower resigns, calling Ryan Zinke’s leadership a failure

Fund Horse, US Flag and Capitol Dome. Vivian Grant Farrell.
Fund Horse, US Flag and Capitol Dome. Vivian Grant Farrell.

WASHINGTON, DC (via the Washington Post, Darryl Fears reporting, October 5, 2017) — An Interior Department executive turned whistleblower who claimed the Trump administration retaliated against him for publicly disclosing how climate change affects Alaska Native communities resigned Wednesday.

Joel Clement, a scientist and policy expert, was removed from his job by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke shortly after the disclosure and reassigned to an accounting position for which he has no experience. Clement was among dozens of senior executive service personnel who were quickly, and perhaps unlawfully, reassigned in June, but he was the only person who spoke out.

Interior’s inspector general is probing the reassignments to determine whether the process was legal. By law, executives are to be given ample notice of a job switch. Many of those reassigned say they were given no notice, according to attorneys who are representing some of the employees. The inspector general said Clement is on the list of employees being contacted, though Clement and his lawyer say that hasn’t happened in the more than two months since the evaluation launched.

An Interior Department executive turned whistleblower who claimed the Trump administration retaliated against him for publicly disclosing how climate change affects Alaska Native communities resigned Wednesday.

Joel Clement, a scientist and policy expert, was removed from his job by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke shortly after the disclosure and reassigned to an accounting position for which he has no experience. Clement was among dozens of senior executive service personnel who were quickly, and perhaps unlawfully, reassigned in June, but he was the only person who spoke out.

Interior’s inspector general is probing the reassignments to determine whether the process was legal. By law, executives are to be given ample notice of a job switch. Many of those reassigned say they were given no notice, according to attorneys who are representing some of the employees. The inspector general said Clement is on the list of employees being contacted, though Clement and his lawyer say that hasn’t happened in the more than two months since the evaluation launched.

Zinke is on a mission to cut 4,000 jobs at Interior in accordance with President Trump’s proposed 2018 budget. In a Senate committee hearing, Zinke said attrition and reassignments would be used as tools toward that goal, and said layoffs are possible if they don’t work. Continue reading »

The Bureau of Land Management, responsible for managing America’s wild horses and burros on public lands, is part of the Department of Interior who are planning to massacre them by the thousands.

Obama nominates oil and gas playmate Sally Jewell to replace Salazar

Sally Jewell. Getty Images.
Sally Jewell. Getty Images.

SOURCE: KFWB NEWS TALK RADIO 980

WASHINGTON (Feb. 6, 2012) — President Barack Obama on Wednesday nominated outdoor business executive Sally Jewell to lead the Interior Department.

Obama said Jewell, president and chief executive at REI, has earned national recognition for her support of outdoor recreation and habitat conservation. He also noted her experience as an engineer in oil fields and her record of achievement and environmental stewardship at REI, which sells clothing and gear for outdoor use.

“She knows the link between conservation and good jobs. She knows that there’s no contradiction between being good stewards of the land and our economic progress — that, in fact, those two things need to go hand and hand,” Obama said at a White House ceremony.

Jewell is the first woman nominated for Obama’s second-term cabinet

At REI, Jewell “has shown that a company with more than $1 billion in sales can do the right thing for our planet,” Obama said. Last year, REI donated nearly $4 million to protect trails and parks, and 20 percent of the electricity used in the company’s stores comes from renewable sources.

Jewell, the first woman Obama has nominated for his Cabinet in his second term, would replace current Interior Secretary Ken Salazar if confirmed by the Senate. Salazar has held the post throughout Obama’s first term. He announced last month that he would step down in March.

Jewell, 56, emerged as a frontrunner for the Interior post in recent days, edging out better-known Democrats such as former Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire and former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter. The Interior job traditionally has gone to politicians from Western states. Salazar was a Colorado senator before taking over at Interior in 2009.

Jewell donated $5,000 to Obama’s re-election effort and has supported other Democrats, campaign finance records show.

Lack of diversity draws criticism

The White House faced criticism that the new Cabinet lacked diversity after Obama tapped a string of white men for top posts, but Obama promised more diverse nominees were in the queue for other jobs.

Jewell’s confirmation also would put a prominent representative from the business community in the president’s Cabinet. REI is a $2 billion-a-year company and has been named by Fortune Magazine as one of the top 100 companies to work for.

Jewell was born in England, but moved to the Seattle area before age 4 and is a U.S. citizen.

In 2011, Jewell introduced Obama at a White House conference on the “America’s Great Outdoors” initiative, noting that the $289 billion outdoor-recreation industry supports 6.5 million jobs. She also appeared at a 2009 White House event on health care.

Under Salazar, the Interior Department pushed renewable power such as solar and wind and oversaw a moratorium on offshore drilling after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The moratorium was lifted in October 2010, although offshore drilling operations did not begin for several more months.

The Interior Department: A massive operation

The Interior Department manages more than 500 million acres in national parks and other public lands, and more than 1 billion acres offshore, overseeing energy, mining operations and recreation. The department also provides services to 566 federally recognized Indian tribes.

Jewell’s nomination was hailed by conservation and business groups alike.

Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune called Jewell a champion in the effort to connect children with nature and said she has “a demonstrated commitment to preserving the higher purposes public lands hold for all Americans — recreation, adventure, and enjoyment.

The Western Energy Alliance, which represents the oil and natural gas industry in the West, also welcomed Jewell’s nomination.

“Her experience as a petroleum engineer and business leader will bring a unique perspective to an office that is key to our nation’s energy portfolio,” said Tim Wigley, the group’s president.

Wigley said his group hopes Jewell will work to develop oil and gas on non-park, non-wilderness public lands.

Jewell’s appointment comes as Democrats and environmental groups are urging Obama to step up efforts to conserve public lands in his second term.

Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt said Tuesday that Obama should adopt a principle in which every acre of public land that is leased to the oil and gas industry is matched by an acre permanently protected for conservation or recreation.

Over the past four years, more than 6 million acres of public lands have been leased for oil and gas, compared with 2.6 million acres permanently protected, according to U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Jewell, who is married with two grown children, was paid more than $2 million as REI’s CEO in 2011. She contributed $5,000 to the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee set up by Obama and the Democratic Party, according to federal election records. She has contributed to Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., and a political action committee that supports Democrats.

Jewell also was on the board of directors of Avista Corp., a Spokane-based power utility, from 1997 through 2003. U.S. Securities and Exchange documents show that in her last full year as an Avista board member, Jewell held more than 15,600 shares in the utility and received $50,000 in director’s fees.

In 2004, federal prosecutors charged that Avista played a role in a 2000 deal that allowed then-energy giant Enron to sell a $3 million turbine to the northwest utility firm. Prosecutors did not criminally charge Avista, but said the utility agreed to buy the turbine before a larger deal was completed — a move that aided Enron in hiding the turbine deal from its auditors.

Jewell was on Avista’s audit and finance committee when the utility bought the turbine in 2000. Avista was not criminally charged in the Enron indictment and none of the utility’s officials, including Jewell, were cited in the charges. Avista officials at the time denied any knowledge of Enron’s internal moves.

Houston-based Enron collapsed in 2001 amid fraud and corruption charges.

End.

FROM THE EDITOR

How about this from the New York Times:

Ms. Jewell, if confirmed, would represent a different model, a corporate executive with experience in both resource exploitation and conservation.

This not what wild horses advocates will be pleased to hear.

And this from the President:

Mr. Obama referred to her South Pole adventures.

“And when Sally is confirmed, I’m willing to bet that she will be the first secretary of the interior who frequently hikes Mailbox Peak in her native Washington State and who once spent a month climbing mountains in Antarctica,” he said, “which is just not something I’d think of doing, because it seems like it’d be cold, and I was born in Hawaii.”

Um, Mr. President, I believe it takes a little more expertise than being able to climb mountains and selling hiking gear to manage the complex issues facing the US Department of Interior. It seems pretty obvious it is her oil and gas background he is interested in. Her Confirmation Hearing ought to be interesting. We will see how tough they are on her. The Oil & Gas lobby must be dancing in the streets.

Cows ate BLM’s homework; say they cannot track cattle on public lands

SOURCE: PEER NEWS RELEASE
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility

BLM SAYS IT CANNOT TRACK CATTLE ON ITS LANDS
Blames Lack of “Seamless Data” for Excluding Livestock from Range Assessments

Washington, DC (Jan. 24, 2013) — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) says it was an absence of “reliable data”—and not politics—that caused it to exclude consideration of commercial livestock impacts from multi-million dollar assessments of environmental conditions on Western range lands. BLM thus rejected the first scientific misconduct complaint filed against it by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), which today released a detailed rebuttal of BLM’s self-exoneration.

In a letter dated January 2, 2013, Louis Brueggeman, the BLM Scientific Integrity Officer, rejected the PEER scientific misconduct complaint filed more than a year earlier, on November 30, 2011. He concluded that the complaint had “no merit” since the decision to exclude grazing was reached independently by study team leaders (all BLM managers) solely for “technical reasons” relating to the “lack of sufficient existing data” about livestock impacts.

In reaching this conclusion, BLM ignored meeting minutes produced by PEER in which BLM managers are quoted saying that study of grazing impacts would concern “stakeholders” and the Washington Office due to “fear of litigation.” The claim that the real reason was lack of data does not hold water because:

— Attempts to exclude grazing began at the earliest stages of the study, before data availability was even examined. Further, BLM assertions of data gaps were never examined, let alone verified;
— Other factors being studied, such as invasive species, also have data gaps but these issues did not prevent invasive species from being selected as a study focus; and
— BLM managers hid the existence of a major livestock database which was never given to researchers.

“Caught with its pants down, BLM would have us believe it is wearing ankle warmers,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that the $40 million study was the biggest in BLM history but will end up being largely useless. “As by far the biggest disturbance factor on Western range lands, commercial livestock grazing simply cannot be left out of a scientific landscape assessment.”

PEER today asked Dr. Suzette Kimball, the Scientific Integrity Officer for the entire Interior Department, to reject BLM’s findings and institute an independent review. This is the first scientific misconduct complaint filed against BLM under rules purporting to prevent political manipulation of science.

“Unless some standards of credibility are applied, agencies will be able to simply deny instances of scientific misconduct, no matter how well documented or compelling,” Ruch added. “This scientific integrity process will become a complete joke if BLM can get away with claiming ‘the cows ate my homework.’”

End.

—-

WE SAY

BLM Mustang Abacus Cartoon
BLM abacus cartoon by Vivian, from July 2010.

How can anyone be surprised by this? The BLM have never been able to count horses. Why should it be any different with cattle?

So glad this has happened on the departing Interior Secretary Salazar’s watch. It appears to us that the BLM have never been as blindly ruthless and corrupt as under his leadership. We leave you with a cartoon we put together earlier concerning the BLM and their numbers game. We were not laughing then; we are not laughing now.

In the meantime, Ken Salazar joined Twitter on Friday @KenSalazar. See https://twitter.com/Interior/statuses/295677127171375104.

— Editor.

BLM Public Meeting June 14th: The plan remains the same

Written by VIVIAN GRANT

Well, those of us following the BLM Public Meeting in Denver on the Wild Horse & Burro Program via live streaming just got kicked out.

Black cat wild horse advocate
Hiss and growl at the BLM all you want, but they are simply carrying out the agenda as dictated by the Department of Interior, under the direction of Secretary Ken Salazar, appointed by Barack Obama.

Here are my thoughts on what we heard once the audio was (pretty much) sorted out.

Wild Horse & Burro Decimation Plan

The bottom line is that the BLM are sticking to their plan no matter what. They are doing so because, what else can they do? The BLM are carrying out the agenda as dictated by the Department of Interior, under the direction of Secretary Ken Salazar, appointed by Barack Obama.

No matter how well wild horse and burro advocates debate the points, defeating BLM arguments at every turn, or how many great solutions or alternatives they suggest, America’s wild horses and burros will be zeroed out. All of them. End of story. They will be rounded up, the ones who are not adopted will be imprisoned, then euthanized. In this case, euthanized means slaughter (as Horse Slaughter Sue Wallis finally got around to recommending after babbling incoherently in her earlier turns at the mic). That is the Obama Plan. Therefore that is the Salazar Plan, and the BLM’s.

Public hearings such as these are an exercise in futility, but attend we must. Wild horse and burro advocates have to continue giving a voice to our wild equines. As always they are doing a stellar job.

Wild horse and burro advocates say we need more data, more ideas, more plans, perhaps even more celebrities. Well, that’s great, but where has it gotten us, or more importantly, where has it gotten the wild horses and burros? Rounded up, harassed, imprisoned and abused — some to the point of death. What America’s wild horses and burros truly need is a voice in the nation’s capital.

It is the federal government who got the wild horses and burros into this mess. It will take the federal government to get them out of it. The question is, with elected and appointed officials conducting the business of lobbyists and special interest groups, and no one else’s, the taxpaying citizen has absolutely no say in how this country is run, or what the policies are. Of course, we can vote out the old and vote in the new, but how long before they too are sucked into the same malignant cycle?

Our wild horses and burros need strong, relentless and powerful voices in Washington, true champions who will get the job done to return and leave them in the freedom they were promised in 1971.

Live Streaming, BLM Wild Horse & Burro Meeting, Denver, Colorado continues June 15th.
Link: http://xtomic.acrobat.com/blm. Sign in as a Guest.

Note: Is that your photograph? Please let us know so we can give you credit. Great capture!