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Overview

The Department of the Interior (DOI) is a cabinet-level agency of the federal government that focuses on conservation and use of federal lands. DOI is responsible for preserving the natural wonders of the American landscape for present and future generations to enjoy, while facilitating the development of public lands for use by mining and oil companies. The mission of Interior officials is to implement programs that offer recreational opportunities for all Americans, support American Indian and Alaska Native populations, conduct scientific research, provide stewardship of energy and mineral resources, foster sound use of land and water resources and conserve and protect fish and wildlife.

 
DOI is one of the oldest departments in the federal government, and it is also one of the largest revenue-generating operations, raising approximately $13 billion each year from energy, mineral, grazing, timber, recreation, land sales and other sources. Its dual missions of environmental preservation and economic development have sometimes worked at cross purposes, with endangered species often coming out on the short end. Numerous controversies have erupted involving DOI programs and officials, especially during the current administration of George W. Bush.

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History:

Although the Department of the Interior has been around for more than 150 years, it has not always been the government’s leading voice on American lands and conservation. In fact, when it was first created by Congress, Interior (originally known as the Home Department) was something of a “kitchen sink” department where various agencies were placed to address domestic matters of one kind or another. As a result, Interior was known during its early years as the “Department of Everything Else,” responsible for such things as the construction of Washington, DC’s water system, oversight of the District of Columbia jail, the colonization of freed slaves in Haiti, exploration of western wilderness, regulation of territorial governments, management of hospitals, universities and public parks, and basic responsibilities for Native Americans, public lands, patents and pensions.

 
While Interior managed its grab-bag assortment of duties during the 19th century, the federal government gradually developed other offices and programs that would in time become part of the latter-day Interior Department responsible for managing the country’s natural resources. Congress established the US Geological Survey (1879) to better examine American territories and terrain and the Bureau of Reclamation (1902) to construct dams and aqueducts in the west. The following year President Theodore Roosevelt established the first National Wildlife Refuge at Pelican Island, Florida, and later President Woodrow Wilson signed legislation creating the National Park Service in 1916. In between these two developments, the Bureau of Mines was created in 1910 to promote the mining industry and improve safety for miners.
 
During the 1940s, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was created from the Bureau of Fisheries and the Bureau of Biological Survey, and the Interior Department’s General Land Office and Grazing Service were merged into the Bureau of Land Management. By this time, Interior had begun to take on the shape of the department it is today.
 
Additional duties assigned to Interior in the subsequent decades were oversight of Guam, American Samoa and the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (1950-51)(which has since divided into The Republic of the Marshall Islands, The Federated State of Micronesia and The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands), management of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (1977) to monitor state regulation of strip coal mining and repair of environmental damage and the Minerals Management Service (1982) to facilitate mineral revenue collection and manage the Outer Continental Shelf offshore lands.
 
Throughout its history, Interior has had leaders that have drawn public attention, for better or worse, to the department. During the administration of President Warren G. Harding, Interior Secretary Albert B. Fall was implicated in the biggest political scandal of the day - the Teapot Dome Scandal - in which Fall accepted bribes for leasing federal lands to two oilmen.
 
During the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Interior was run by Secretary Harold Ickes (the department’s longest serving leader), described by one historian as “a remarkably complex and profoundly suspicious man who thrived on rancorous debate and unending controversy. Ickes was known to intimidate those he worked with and even hired private investigators to tap the telephones of employees. Ickes was also credited with helping shape the department into the conservation-oriented operation it is today.
 
President John F. Kennedy’s secretary, Stewart Udall, continued to expand what Ickes began in making the department a leader in preserving America’s natural treasures. During his eight years in office, spanning the Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson administrations, Udall promoted the passage of the Federal Clean Air Act of 1963, the Wilderness Act of 1964, the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965, the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (PDF), the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968 and amendments strengthening the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1956. Among Udall’s other initiatives expanding Interior’s role and influence beyond its traditional western focus were the establishment of four national seashores along the Atlantic coast, major pollution abatement efforts on Lake Erie and the Hudson, Delaware and Potomac rivers and a highly publicized National Capital beautification campaign sponsored by Lady Bird Johnson .
 
The Republican administrations of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan did not embrace the eco-friendly mission of Interior. Nixon appointed former Alaska governor Walter Hickel to run the department, even though his record had a pro-development bent, while Reagan appointed one of Interior’s most infamous secretaries: James Watt. During his short tenure, Watt became a lightning rod for criticism from environmentalists because of his anti-conservation policies that promoted the use of federal lands by timber, oil and mining companies and ranchers. For more than two decades, Watt held the record for going the longest without adding an animal or plant to the endangered species list: 376 days. (The record was broken by Dirk Kempthorne, President George W. Bush’s second Interior secretary, who went two years and five days without listing a single species.)
 
Other noted Interior secretaries include Bruce Babbit (Clinton administration), who worked to protect scenic and historic areas of America’s federal public lands. Babbitt pushed for the creation of the National Landscape Conservation System, a collection of 15 national monuments and 14 national conservation areas. Babbitt was also the focus of a federal grand jury investigation into whether he had lied to Congress about having denied an Indian casino license in Wisconsin in return for political donations. Babbitt was ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing.
 
Following Babbitt was Gale A. Norton, President Bush’s first Interior secretary and the first woman to ever run the department (see Former Secretaries). 
 
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What it Does:

The Department of the Interior (DOI) is one of the oldest cabinet-level departments of the federal government, responsible for programs that manage America’s natural resources and preserve its environment. DOI essentially stewards the lands, waters and species of the United States so that the country can enjoy its natural beauty while also exploiting the precious minerals and fossil fuels contained within the Earth. Interior officials oversee National Parks and other government-designated sanctuaries, enforce laws protecting threatened species of fish and animal life, manage key water supplies that Western urban centers and farmers rely on, monitor mining activities and implement programs affecting Native American and Alaskans, including tribal gambling operations.

 
Key DOI offices:
Conservation and Commercial Exploitation
National Park Service NPS is responsible for overseeing, maintaining and preserving the National Park System, comprised of 391 areas covering more than 84 million acres. These areas include national parks, monuments, battlefields, military parks, historical parks, historic sites, lakeshores, seashores, recreation areas, and scenic rivers and trails. Notable areas such as the White House, the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty and Gettysburg are also under NPS administration. In addition to the national park system, the agency also oversees the National Historic Landmarks program and the National Register of Historic Places, including more than 8,000 monuments and statues. NPS offers grants and assistance to register, record and save historic lands and locations, to create community parks and recreation facilities, as well as conserve waterways and wildlife and develop trails and greenways.
 
Fish and Wildlife Service FWS serves as one of the most important federal agencies in the effort to protect endangered species and preserve habitats. FWS oversees a significant number of programs that seek to ensure the viability of coastal ecosystems, bird habitats and migratory routes, and freshwater and saltwater bodies of water for fish species. Along with the National Marine Fisheries Service, FWS is charged with implementing the Endangered Species Act. For much of its history, the agency has been a respected steward of the environment. However, under the leadership of appointees by President George W. Bush, the Fish and Wildlife Service has been routinely criticized by scientists and environmentalists for short-cutting important efforts to protect species threatened with extinction.
 
Bureau of Land Management BLM is responsible for managing the United States’ public lands. BLM oversees the use and conservation of 258 million acres, most of which is located in the American West and Alaska. A key responsibility of BLM is the issuance of leases to corporate interests to extract oil, natural gas and minerals from beneath public lands. This natural resource development, in effect since the 19th century, has left wide areas of American wilderness damaged by the effects of drilling and mining and provoked protests from environmental groups opposed to future oil, gas and mining activities in sensitive areas.
 
Bureau of Reclamation This section of the Interior Department is all about dams and ambitious water projects. During the 20th Century, Reclamation was responsible for building some of the nation’s most ambitious dam projects and for helping shape the American West. Because of the hundreds of dams the bureau created, Reclamation is the largest wholesaler of water in the United States, responsible for bringing water to more than 31 million people and hundreds of farms. Also, the bureau is the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the western United States, managing 58 power plants. Its legacy of dam building has made the bureau a magnet for controversy, both during its heyday of large water projects and today as ecosystems and fish species struggle to survive downstream of river diversions.
 
Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement OSM charged with the competing tasks of promoting coal production in the US while also trying to protect and restore the land that has been ravaged by surface, or strip, mining. For the most part, OSM has been successful in implementing task No. 1 and failed miserably at task No. 2. The agency has long been viewed as a favored ally of the coal industry, much to the frustration of environmentalists and local activists in states like Kentucky and West Virginia.
 
Minerals Management Service MMS manages the natural gas, oil and other mineral resources on the US outer continental shelf (OCS). MMS is responsible for collecting revenues generated from government leases of OCS lands as well as onshore mineral leases on federal and Native American lands to private oil and gas companies. These lease revenues represent some of the most important non-tax revenue that the federal government collects. However, MMS received bipartisan criticism in 2006 and 2007 for not fully collecting royalty payments from oil and gas companies.
 
Natural Resources Damage Assessment and Restoration Program NRDAR works in partnership with state, tribal and federal agencies to determine the adverse impacts caused by oil spills or hazardous substance releases to natural resources managed by the Interior Department. The program then negotiates a settlement with those responsible, or, if the accused party won’t settle, takes them to court, to garner funds for use in the restoration process, which the restoration program implements.
 
 
Native Americans
Bureau of Indian Affairs BIA is responsible for the administration and management of 55.7 million acres of land held in trust by the United States for American Indians, Indian tribes and Alaska Natives. Although there are 561 federally recognized tribal governments, it is BIA that controls the development of forestlands, leasing assets on these lands, directing agricultural programs, protecting water and land rights, and developing and maintaining infrastructure and economic development. BIA responsibilities and programs include the management of Indian trust accounts; tribal legitimacy; education; land management and resource protection; law enforcement; land consolidation; and the dispersion of certain federal grants.
 
Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians OST oversees the management and accountability of policies and practices regarding Indian funds held in trust by the federal government. OST manages approximately $2.5 billion in tribal funds and more than $400 million in Individual Indian Money (IIM) Accounts. It handles nearly $460 million in annual receipts and issues more than 513,000 checks per year. OST is entrusted with protecting and preserving the IIM assets and collecting and accurately accounting for income due. In addition, it is responsible for Indian land valuations, making estimates of market value for real property interests on land owned in trust or restricted status. Two years after it was created, OST was sued by a Native American woman claiming that potentially billions of dollars held since the late 1800s in trust for hundreds of thousands of Indians were accounted for improperly. The case is still pending.
 
National Indian Gaming Commission NIGC s an independent federal regulatory agency that monitors the work of Native American tribe’s gaming regulators, aiming to insure that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act is adhered to and promoting economic development and self-sufficiency within the tribes. Solely funded through fees collected from gaming operations under its jurisdiction, NIGC conducts investigations, background checks and audits; undertakes enforcement activities; approves ordinances before gaming can occur; and issues notices of violation and closure orders. It also works to stay on top of new innovations, ideas, and changes in technology, and provides training to the Indian gaming industry and regulators. In the mid-1990s, Republican lobbyist and businessman Jack Abramoff began representing some tribes with gambling interests, for which he received more than $85 million. It was eventually revealed that Abramoff had broken the law and he pleaded guilty to felony counts of conspiracy, fraud and tax evasion.  
 
Other
US Geological Survey USGS is a fact-finding agency that collects and provides scientific data about natural resource conditions, issues and challenges facing the country and the federal government. Originally founded in an effort to map and survey the US territories, today’s USGS program areas include biology, geography, geology, geospace and water. As a federal agency with a mandate for objective scientific study, the USGS often finds itself in the crossfire of political debates—over global warming, nuclear waste and nature/wildlife conservation.
 
Office of Insular Affairs OIA has administrative responsibility for coordinating federal policy in the territories of American Samoa, Guam, the US Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, as well as the oversight of federal programs and funds in the freely associated states of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. Additionally, OIA exercises some control in two of the nine smaller insular areas of Palmyra and the Wake Atolls. 
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Where Does the Money Go

The Interior Department has spent $28.6 billion on contractors this decade, according to USAspending.gov. More than 111,000 companies and organizations received Interior funds to provide telecommunications services, research and development, facility operations and maintenance, and engineering and technical services, among functions.

 
The biggest spenders within Interior were the Office of Policy, Management and Budget/Chief Financial Officer ($9.1 billion), Minerals Management Service ($5.2 billion), National Park Service ($4.3 billion), Bureau of Land Management ($2.4 billion) and Bureau of Reclamation ($2.2 billion).
 
The biggest recipients of contracts were:        
SAIC, Inc.
$849,555,670
Northrop Grumman
$735,705,404
Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.
$571,917,362
Nana Regional Corp.
$414,394,490
Cherryroad GT Inc.
$322,496,032
Dell Inc.
$314,761,168
Motorola, Inc.
$303,853,272
IBM
$289,307,843
BAE Systems PLC
$271,037,910
WPP Group PLC
$262,758,904
 
In addition to contracts, the Interior Department distributes millions of dollars in grants to help preserve endangered species. The Fish and Wildlife Service is one of the main distributors of such grants to state and local governments. In May 2008, the Fish and Wildlife Service awarded state and territorial wildlife agencies more than $60 million to help conserve and recover imperiled wildlife through the State Wildlife Grant Program.
 
In January 2008, FWS announced the release of $20.5 million in National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grants to fund 29 conservation projects encompassing nearly 10,000 acres of coastal wetlands. The grants are used to support coastal wetlands to provide long-term conservation benefits to fish, wildlife and habitat in California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Texas, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Maine, Maryland and Massachusetts, along with Puerto Rico.
 
The Fish and Wildlife Service also gave out more than $13.6 million in grants to 27 states under the Clean Vessel Act grant program in April 2008. The grants help fund the construction and installation of sewage pumpout facilities and floating restrooms and to purchase pumpout boats and for educational programs for recreational boaters.
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Controversies:

NPS Management Policies Create Friction

In 2005 a proposed revision of the National Park Service’s management policies caused division within the agency. A document was circulated outlining guiding principles for caretakers that covered both daily operations and long-term governance decisions for the park service. When agency watchdogs got a hold of the document, they accused NPS leaders of favoring recreational priorities over environmental preservation. As a result, the Interior Secretary threw out most of the proposed revisions.
 
According to the Organization of American Historians, the controversy began in August of 2005 when Interior Department Deputy Assistant Secretary Paul Hoffman, a former Congressional aide to Dick Cheney who had never worked for the National Park Service, drastically revised the NPS management policies. Hoffman’s revision would have allowed any activity—such as the installation of cell phone towers or the use of motorized vehicles in wilderness areas—that did not create an irreversible impact on park resources to take place. It also would have permitted the sale of religious merchandise within park boundaries.
NPS Controversy Nearing Resolution (by Susan Ferentinos, Organization of American Historians)
 
California Desert Left Out of Protection Status
In March 2008 environmental activists were outraged by an Interior Department decision to exclude large tracts of California desert from federal protection. Affected was more than half of the 10.6 million-acre California Desert Conservation Area that stretches from the Mexican border to Mono Lake.
 
The controversy stemmed from the Bureau of Land Management’s reading of a proposed Congressional plan to permanently protect 26 million acres of beautiful and historic landscapes in the American West. Because the California desert area didn’t contain “national” in its title, the conservation area didn’t qualify for protection, according to BLM attorneys.
 
But environmental groups and some BLM employees claimed that the semantics hid the political motives of utility companies that wanted to build hundreds of miles of electrical transmission corridors through California’s deserts. Also, off-road vehicle enthusiasts opposed further regulation of the area.
 
Supporters of the California desert want the area to be included in the National Landscape Conservation Act to unify the management and funding for areas such as the original Pony Express National Historic Trail, the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, a million acres of Alaskan caribou calving grounds, 38 wild rivers, Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and a tiny ghost town near the Mexican border.
 
FWS Scientists Stifled on Polar Bears
In 2007, the Fish and Wildlife Service prevented two Alaska scientists from speaking about polar bears, climate change or sea ice at international meetings. The controversial move came at a time when the federal government was proposing listing the polar bear as a threatened species. A former high-level Interior Department official in Anchorage called the effort by FWS a “gag order” designed to make the subjects of polar bears, climate change and sea ice off limits to all scientists who hadn't been cleared to speak on the topics.
 
Bush Administration Manipulates Data on Endangered Species
The Union of Concerned Scientists reported in 2006 that high-ranking political appointees within the Interior Department had rewritten scientific documents to prevent the protection of several threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Julie MacDonald - an engineer with no training in biology - personally reversed scientific findings, changed scientific conclusions to prevent endangered species from receiving protection, removed relevant information from a scientific document and ordered the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to adopt her edits.
 
Affected species included the greater sage grouse, the Gunnison sage grouse, the white-tailed prairie dog, the Gunnison's prairie dog, a fish known as the roundtail chub and a tree found in the Mariana Islands.
 
In a survey of FWS scientists published the previous year, 84 scientists reported having been directed to inappropriately exclude or alter technical information from FWS scientific documents. Furthermore, 303 scientists, or two thirds of those who responded to the survey, knew of cases where Interior Department political appointees had interfered with scientific determinations.
Survey: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Scientists (Union of Concerned Scientists)
 
Bureau Violates Endangered Species Act
In 2005, a federal court ruled that the Bureau of Reclamation violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) when it renewed long-term contracts for irrigation water diverted from the San Joaquin River at Friant Dam near Fresno. As a result of the water diversion, 60 miles of California’s second longest river remained bone dry, causing harm to endangered salmon and other threatened fish and wildlife.
 
The court ruled that the bureau had ignored the ESA requirement to recover endangered species rather than simply prevent a further decline toward extinction. While environmentalists hailed the decision, farmers and bureau officials expressed concerns that voiding the contracts would have dire economic effects on the agriculture industry.
 
The bureau’s decision to sign long-term water contacts perpetuated the environmental disaster that occurred after Friant Dam was finished in 1942. The diversion of the river resulted in the extermination of the historically large and vibrant San Joaquin River spring Chinook run that ascended the Sierra Nevada before Friant Dam blocked upstream migration.
Judge's ruling on dam opens dialogue (by Juliana Barbassa, Associated Press)
 
Yucca Mountain
One of the biggest environmental controversies involving the federal government over the past 20 years took a new turn recently when three US Geological Survey scientists were caught falsifying documents on Nevada’s Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump project. Evidence of fabricated data surfaced in government emails in 2005, as the Department of Energy (DOE) was preparing its application for a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to store more than 70,000 tons of the most hazardous radioactive waste at the controversial site.
 
Interested in Yucca Mountain since the late 1980s, the DOE had conducted extensive research of the site, and USGS was brought in to help determine its safety as a waste repository. The USGS employees in question, contracted hydrologists studying water flow through the mountain, falsified documents regarding water data during a quality assurance phase of the project from1998-2000. Water data are particularly important for determining viability of the site because safety depends on water levels inside the storage area—and how long it takes for water to filter from the mountain rock to the surrounding water bodies. The data in question were manipulated in favor of a positive safety rating for the DOE’s plans.
 
A 1996 study by Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico had indicated that water takes only a few decades to flow through the mountain, raising concern that the waste storage containers could erode and leak nuclear waste into the water system. The DOE maintained that subsequent studies (including USGS models) had shown that water movement through the site was much slower, and therefore made it safe for storage. In 1998, more than 200 public interest organizations petitioned the DOE to disqualify the site and “declare it unsuitable for further consideration as a high-level nuclear waste repository.” The petition was based in part on a finding of chlorine-36 at elevated levels deep inside the mountain, indicating a rapid water flow.
 
DOE officials wound up admitting that documents regarding the safety of water infiltration at Yucca Mountain had been fabricated. The email scandal elicited FBI and DOI investigations, but no criminal charges, and it was subsequently downplayed by the government. But the tainted body of work USGS had invested in the Yucca Mountain project called into question the scientific basis for DOE’s license application, and DOE had to invest an additional $13 million to redo the research. The Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board (an independent committee charged with assessing YM progress, which reports to Congress) subsequently reported that the second body of research was not nearly as sound as the work it replaced.
Report Downplays Yucca Mountain Email Scandal (Environmental News Service)
Yucca Mountain data fabricated (By Brenda Norrell, Lakota Times)
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Debate:

To Drill or Not to Drill

The Department of the Interior is one of the key players in the ongoing debate over whether to expand oil drilling in Alaska. The issue has emerged as one of the most contentious debates in environmental politics this decade, as the Bush administration has pushed repeatedly for Congress to allow exploration by oil companies into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
 
ANWR was created in 1960 by President Dwight Eisenhower, who placed the land and its wildlife under federal protection. The area, mostly frozen tundra, lies north of the Arctic Circle and is home to more than 45 species of land and marine mammals. Millions of migratory birds nest along its coastal plains, and polar bears, grizzly bears, moose and caribou roam free. The refuge also houses a tribe of 220 Native Alaskans.
 
The effort on the part of the Bush administration began shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, as Republican supporters of Alaskan oil drilling tried to frame the debate as a national security one by linking amendments to open up ANWR with a defense authorization bill. The attempt failed, but the administration was far from giving up.
 
In 2004, Bush officials in the Interior Department submitted their 2005 budget request for DOI, which indicated the department’s plans for easing environmental regulations on public lands, increasing domestic energy production and shifting conservation efforts from the federal government to states and the private sector. Again, the effort failed to succeed in opening ANWR to drilling.
 
In 2008, as gasoline prices soared to their highest levels in the nation’s history, the debate over drilling off the coast of California arose. Although ANWR has not been a featured part of the current discussion, many environmentalists - who oppose more Alaska oil drilling - expect it is only a matter of time before drilling proponents turn their attention north once again.
 
Pro:
Proponents of opening ANWR to drilling include Interior Department officials, such as former and current Interior secretaries Gale Norton and Dirk Kempthorne, President Bush, Republicans in Congress and petroleum and gas companies. They point to the fact that ANWR sits above one of the countries largest untapped oil reserves. In 1998, the US Geological Survey estimated that the region could contain about 10.4 billion barrels of undeveloped oil. This amount of oil, if tapped, would have a significant impact on US oil production. American oil companies currently produce 2.1 billion barrels of oil a year, mostly from Alaska, California and Texas. However, that output is only 30 percent of total US consumption - 7 billion barrels a year. The remaining oil is.
 
With ANWR containing the potential for 1 million additional barrels of oil a day for the US, it is imperative that the country develop this supply to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil and thus reduce the price of gas at the pump. For example, ANWR oil would almost equal America’s daily imports from Saudi Arabia. Additionally, President Bush has pointed out that developing a small section of ANWR would create thousands of new jobs.
 
Con
Numerous environmentalist groups and Democrats in Congress are opposed to opening up the wildlife refuge to drilling. They refer to ANWR as “North America’s Serengeti,” after the fertile plains of East Africa where thousands of animal species travel during an annual migration. One species in particular that could be irrevocably harmed is the polar bear, one of America’s most loved animals, whose habitat could become compromised if oil companies are allowed to extract oil.
 
The Sierra Club has argued that even if American companies were allowed to drill oil from ANWR, the amount would not represent the boon to domestic oil production that proponents have claimed. With only 5% of the world’s population, the US consumes 26% of the world’s oil, club officials point out. At its peak of production, Arctic Refuge oil could supply perhaps 1% of America’s energy needs at any given time, which would not be enough to significantly reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil. Instead, the nation needs to put more emphasis and money into developing alternative forms of energy to reduce US dependence and eliminate the need to tap into one America’s most cherished, undeveloped regions.
 
Background
Alaska Drilling Debate Heats Up (by Jeffrey Benner, Wired)
The ANWR Drilling Debate (by Gwen Ifill, PBS NewsHour)
Our Fake Drilling Debate (George F. Will, Washington Post)
Arctic Oil Drilling Debate Escalates (by Ben Spiess, National Geographic)
Polar bear habitat at center of Alaska drilling debate (by Brad Knickerbocker, Christian Science Monitor)
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Suggested Reforms:

Indian Trust in Need of Change

Since the 19th Century, the federal government has allowed mining, oil, timber and other companies to extract resources from Native American reservation lands. Proceeds from these leases are supposed to be set aside in a special trust and monies distributed among federally-recognized tribes. For decades, Native American officials have claimed that the government was not properly reporting or collecting these monies to tribal governments, and finally in 1996, a lawsuit was filed challenging the Indian trust.
 
The controversy prompted Interior Department officials to request a study that examined its accounting system for the Indian trust. The DOI Trust Reform report (PDF) produced the following findings and recommendations:
 
Findings
-        Trust Reform has lacked a vision or strategy
-        There was no overarching fiduciary duty focus to trust management activities and operations as directed by the American Indian Trust Fund Management Reform Act of 1994
-        Trust reform subprojects were not well coordinated or integrated resulting in a fragmented approach to addressing Trust Reform.
-        Beneficiaries were not receiving the level and type of service normally found in a commercial bank trust
-        Inefficiencies exist in the management of the trust. A number of processes need to be streamlined and technologies introduced to reduce cost and improve service.
-        There was a lack of adequate resources to conduct trust activities
 
Recommendations
-        Develop a fiduciary duty focus and strategy to trust management activities and operations.
-        Create a beneficiary approach to trust activities and service delivery.
-        Develop enterprise architecture to facilitate fiduciary responsibilities and the beneficiary approach.
-        Create an organizational model with adequate resources to support the trust business model.
-        Improve efficiency of trust management processes and apply appropriate industry standards.
-        Establish clear metrics to manage trust business and assess performance.
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Former Directors:

Gale Norton (January 2001 - March 2006)

 
Gale Norton became the first woman to head the Interior Department after President George W. Bush nominated her at the beginning of his first term in office. Norton graduated magna cum laude from the University of Denver in 1975 and earned her law degree with honors from the same university in 1978.
 
Norton has been described as a protégé of former Interior Secretary James Watt.
From 1979 to 1983, Norton worked as a senior attorney for the Mountain States Legal Foundation. In 1983 Norton moved to the conservative Hoover Institution, where she urged a market-based approach to controlling air pollution. She also served on the advisory boards of two right-wing groups, Defenders of Property Rights and the Washington Legal Foundation.
 
She then moved to Washington, DC, where she served as assistant to the deputy secretary of agriculture and as associate solicitor of the Interior Department overseeing endangered species and public lands legal issues for the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service.
 
From 1991 to 1999, Norton served as attorney general of Colorado. In 1998, she founded a group called the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy (CREA) to counter the image that Democrats are the party that protects the environment. CREA was described by one Republican as a front to obscure the records of Republicans with bad environmental records. The sponsors for CREA’s kickoff gala included the Chlorine Chemical Council, National Coal Council, Chemical Manufacturers Association and the National Mining Association.
 
After serving as attorney general, Norton joined the firm of Brownstein, Hyatt & Farber as a senior counsel—a title that belied her lobbying work with the Colorado Legislature and Congress. The firm lobbied on behalf of 45 clients, including Delta Petroleum Corporation, Timet-Titanium Metals Corporation, the Shaw Group, Ustman Technologies and Warren Rogers Associates, all of whom had interests with the Interior Department.
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Comments

Jeanne Cain 4 weeks ago
Please do not lift the ban on killing elephants in Zimbabwe and allowing hunters to bring the trophies into the United States. Killing for the sport of it is wrong and lifting the ban encourages more hunters to do so. We are sending the wrong message to the rest of the world.
mary beth 4 months ago
To dismiss two climate change scientists from the Glacier National Park tour with Mark Zuckerberg.. is to admit that the GOP is not fact based.. does not support SCIENCE.. is not the party that should be leading us through our environmental crisis point.. DENIAL of facts.. results in denial of problem solving.. this is NO WAY TO RUN A COUNTRY.. your legacy will haunt you AND your grandchildren.. Let's work together and start with becoming FACT BASED.
beth Costanza 5 months ago
After reading the various areas the Dept of the Interior is charged with, I find that several areas are in direct conflict with each other: coal mining vs clean air and water, fishing, oil drilling vs marine sanctuaries, Indian Affairs vs numerous areas of conflict including managing tribes finances, gambling - just to mention a few. Beth Costanza
Beth Costanza 5 months ago
My family, friends and millions of other Americans implore your department and Pres. Trump not to remove the National Monument Designation for any of the lands designated by President Obama and other US Presidents who declared them as worthy of such a designation. The beautiful San Gabriel Mountains Monument, Mojave Trails, Carrizo Plain, Sand to Snow, Berryessa Snow Mountain and Giant Sequoia, all must be protected for ourselves and for the future generations. Please note John Muir, "Every natural object is a conductor of divinity." All marine sanctuaries on California's coast must be preserved, as well (Channel Islands, Monterey Bay, the Greater Farallones, and Cordell Bank.) Beth and Angelo Costanza
Chuck Martinez 1 year ago
I am a retired Airborne Combat Commando Platoon Seargent and Fed Cop! I have seen BLM over used their law enforcement entities to force Ranchers out of land they have worked for many years. In forcing them out, they went a step where an innocent Rancher was killed. They murdered a Rancher by the name of MR. Lavoy in cold blood in a well orchestrated ambush! I personally am an expert in ambushes as I conducted many live ambushers myself during the war. After viewing the vedio over 25 times, I am surprised that no one has been arrested for this hainious crime of the murder of an innocent American civilian! I am waiting for the coming elections to bring this case up with the new incoming president. Our law-enforcement agencies are supposed to protect our citizens, not murder them just because they think they could but not in this country, never!!!!!
Danny Baker 1 year ago
Why has our government not done something to isolate these terrorists in Oregon? Cut off the water, electric but leave them internet so they can see a L the ridiculing posts online. WHY haven't we had a coordinated effort to blockade this bunch of criminals? WHY are we allowing people to come and go from OUR refuge? WHY are we allowing them to gather other militants to support them? Lock it up and starve them out!
Melody Martin 4 years ago
was our United States Department of Interior responsible for creating maps of interested areas to and for our military? Meaning areas occupied by or controlled by government(s) as precieved during a period of time requested.

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Founded: 1849
Annual Budget: $16.8 billion
Employees: 68,000
Official Website: http://www.doi.gov/

Department of the Interior

Zinke, Ryan
Secretary

During his political career, Ryan Zinke’s position on climate change has moved from supporting legislation to slow the effects of the phenomenon to doubting that mankind has caused global warming. Now, Zinke, a Montana congressman who was confirmed by a 68 to 31 U.S. Senate vote on March 1, 2017, to be secretary of the Department of the Interior, will be leading one of the departments most tied to climate change. At his confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, he supported coal mining on federal lands, but also opposed the sale or transfer of federal lands.

 

Zinke was born in Bozeman, Montana, on November 1, 1961, to Ray, a plumber, and Jean Zinke. Zinke played football at Whitefish High School, and after he graduated in 1980 he went on to play center at the University of Oregon. He graduated from there in 1984 with a B.S. in geology. He later earned an MBA from National University in 1991 and an M.S. in global leadership from the University of San Diego in 2003.

 

Zinke wanted to be a deep-sea diver and was persuaded to join the Navy in 1986. He went into the SEALs, the Navy’s commando unit. He rose quickly through the ranks, but in the mid-1990s took a trip to Montana on the taxpayers’ dime that Zinke claimed was to scout training sites for the SEALs. The Navy thought otherwise—some reports had Zinke using the trip to work on family property—and he was forced to repay the government $211 for his airfare.

 

Zinke served on the famous (and infamous) SEAL Team Six from 1990 to 1993 and from 1996 to 1999 as a team leader, ground force commander, task force commander and current operations officer, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Kosovo. He also served in Iraq and in 2004 was made deputy and acting commander of Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Arabian Peninsula. Zinke was never made a commander of a unit, however, and contemporaries pointed to the Montana “scouting” trip as the reason. Zinke denied this and retired in 2008 with the rank of commander.

 

Zinke returned to Montana and won a seat in the state senate, where he was seen as a moderate Republican. In 2010, he was among more than 1,000 state legislators to sign a letter to President Brack Obama and Congress calling for “comprehensive clean energy jobs and climate change legislation.”

 

In 2012, Zinke ran for lieutenant governor in the Montana Republican primary, but his ticket finished fifth out of seven entrants. That year, he also founded a Super PAC, Special Operations for America. It paid for anti-Obama advertising that year, but spent far more on “fundraising consulting” fees paid to Continental Divide International, which was owned by Zinke, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. According to Zinke’s 2014 financial report, he resigned from Special Operations for America in 2013, after which it began funding his congressional campaign. However, the following year’s report showed that he was still chairman of the organization in 2014. Super PACs are not supposed to have any connection with the candidates they support.

 

As part of the 2014 campaign, Zinke sent out fundraising emails with the header “Who killed Osama bin Laden?” In the emails, he wrote “I spent 23 years as a Navy SEAL and served as a Team Leader on SEAL Team Six — the team responsible for the mission to get Osama bin Laden.” What he didn’t mention in the emails was that he’d been out of the Navy for three years when the mission against bin Laden was carried out. During that campaign, Zinke also made a statement saying that while humans have some role in climate change, “the evidence is equally as strong that there are other factors, such as rising ocean temperatures, that have a greater influence.”

 

Zinke won election to Congress and took seats on the House Armed Services and Natural Resources committees. He was dogged by another controversy when he ran for reelection in 2016. This time, it was a question of whether he actually lived in Montana.

 

Zinke claimed that he lived at his parents’ old home there. But corporate records show the house belonging to Zinke’s corporation. The house was approved by the city of Whitefish for use as a bed and breakfast, called the Snowfrog Inn, and even has its own webpage. Meanwhile, Zinke appeared to spend much of his time in Santa Barbara, California, home of his wife, Lola. He’s even had fundraisers for other politicians advertised as being held at his Santa Barbara home. He also listed a Santa Barbara address in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing he made for another corporation he owns in 2013. He received twice as many campaign contributions from California in 2016 as he did from Montana. Nevertheless, Zinke won reelection just before being nominated by Donald Trump to lead the Interior Department.

 

Zinke and his wife, the former Lolita Hand, have two adult sons, Wolfgang and Konrad, and a daughter, Jennifer, who is a U.S. Navy diver.

-Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More:

Ryan Zinke Statement for Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

Zinke’s Nomination Could Bring Questions About Super PAC Ties (by Soo Rin Kim, Center for Responsive Politics)

Trump Taps Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke as Interior Secretary (by Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post)

Zinke Decries Attacks on his Montana Residency (by Jayme Fraser and Holly Michels, The Missoulian)

Does Congressman Zinke Even Live in Montana or is He California Dreamin’? (by Don Pogreba, Intelligent Discontent)

Does Being a Veteran Help Candidates? A Montana Politician Hopes So (by Alan Zarembo, Los Angeles Times)

U.S. House Candidate Profile: Ryan Zinke (by Charles S. Johnson, Ravalli Republic)

His Former Commander Exposes Ryan Zinke’s Navy SEAL Career and Defective “Moral Make-Up” (by Don Pogreba, Intelligent Discontent

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Jewell, Sally
Previous Secretary

President Barack Obama has nominated a new leader for the Department of the Interior—the cabinet-level agency that focuses on conservation and use of federal lands, balancing the preservation of natural wonders with the economic development of public lands. Nominated on February 6, 2013, Sally Jewell is an avid outdoorswoman who has spent her career in the private sector. Jewell was confirmed by the Senate on April 10, succeeding Ken Salazar, who had served since January 20, 2009.

 

Born in 1955 in England, Jewell is the daughter of Anne (née Murphy), a nurse, midwife and nurse practitioner for 60 years, and Peter Roffey, an anesthesiologist who moved the family to Seattle, Washington, when Sally was four to work at the University of Washington. Sally Jewell graduated in 1973 from Renton High School, and earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering in 1978 at the University of Washington.

 

Although she worked for Mobil Oil in Oklahoma from 1978 through 1981, Jewell spent twenty years of her career in the banking industry. In 1981, she joined Rainier Bank, which was hiring engineers to advise on lending to oil companies, and stayed after Rainier was acquired by Security Pacific Bank until 1992, when it was acquired by Bank of America. At Security Pacific, Jewell ran the bank’s business-banking activities. Jewell worked for WestOne Bank from 1992 to 1995 and for Washington Mutual from 1995 to 2000.

 

While at Washington Mutual, Jewell joined the board of outdoor products retailer REI, the nation’s largest consumer cooperative, in 1996. In 2000, the board hired her to be REI’s chief operating officer, and in 2005 she succeeded Dennis Madsen as chief executive officer. Jewell has promoted green policies at REI, which uses energy-efficient building materials, buys renewable energy, and offsets the carbon emissions from store-sponsored travel-adventure packages by buying “green tags,” which subsidize alternative energy in developing countries.

 

Jewell has sat on the boards of Premera, the National Parks Conservation Association, and the University of Washington Board of Regents. She is also a founding board member and immediate past president of the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust.

 

Jewell is a lifelong lover of the outdoors, whose father became an REI member shortly after moving to Seattle and took the family on many camping trips, the first of them to Mount Rainier National Park. She has climbed Vinson Massif (elev.: 16,050 ft.) the highest mountain in Antarctica.

 

Jewell, who resides in Seattle, is married to Warren Jewell, also an engineer, with whom she has two adult children. A lifelong Democrat, Jewell has made political donations totaling $40,800 since 2006, 44% of it to two trade associations—the Outdoor Industry Association ($11,500) and the Retail Industry Leaders Association ($6,500). The remainder went overwhelmingly to Democratic candidates and causes, including $2,300 to Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, $4,800 to Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington), $2,000 to Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), and $900 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2012. Her only donations to Republicans have been $1,000 to Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Washington) and $500 to Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s 2009 re-election campaign.

 

To Learn More:

A Profile of REI’s Sally Jewell: Team player at her Peak (by Monica Soto Ouchi, Seattle Times)

Executive Q & A: Sally Jewell, President and CEO of REI (by Leslie D. Helm, Seattle Business)

Sally Jewell, CEO of Outdoor Retailer REI, Nominated for Interior Secretary (by Danica Zupic, Wildlife Society News)

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Overview

The Department of the Interior (DOI) is a cabinet-level agency of the federal government that focuses on conservation and use of federal lands. DOI is responsible for preserving the natural wonders of the American landscape for present and future generations to enjoy, while facilitating the development of public lands for use by mining and oil companies. The mission of Interior officials is to implement programs that offer recreational opportunities for all Americans, support American Indian and Alaska Native populations, conduct scientific research, provide stewardship of energy and mineral resources, foster sound use of land and water resources and conserve and protect fish and wildlife.

 
DOI is one of the oldest departments in the federal government, and it is also one of the largest revenue-generating operations, raising approximately $13 billion each year from energy, mineral, grazing, timber, recreation, land sales and other sources. Its dual missions of environmental preservation and economic development have sometimes worked at cross purposes, with endangered species often coming out on the short end. Numerous controversies have erupted involving DOI programs and officials, especially during the current administration of George W. Bush.

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History:

Although the Department of the Interior has been around for more than 150 years, it has not always been the government’s leading voice on American lands and conservation. In fact, when it was first created by Congress, Interior (originally known as the Home Department) was something of a “kitchen sink” department where various agencies were placed to address domestic matters of one kind or another. As a result, Interior was known during its early years as the “Department of Everything Else,” responsible for such things as the construction of Washington, DC’s water system, oversight of the District of Columbia jail, the colonization of freed slaves in Haiti, exploration of western wilderness, regulation of territorial governments, management of hospitals, universities and public parks, and basic responsibilities for Native Americans, public lands, patents and pensions.

 
While Interior managed its grab-bag assortment of duties during the 19th century, the federal government gradually developed other offices and programs that would in time become part of the latter-day Interior Department responsible for managing the country’s natural resources. Congress established the US Geological Survey (1879) to better examine American territories and terrain and the Bureau of Reclamation (1902) to construct dams and aqueducts in the west. The following year President Theodore Roosevelt established the first National Wildlife Refuge at Pelican Island, Florida, and later President Woodrow Wilson signed legislation creating the National Park Service in 1916. In between these two developments, the Bureau of Mines was created in 1910 to promote the mining industry and improve safety for miners.
 
During the 1940s, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was created from the Bureau of Fisheries and the Bureau of Biological Survey, and the Interior Department’s General Land Office and Grazing Service were merged into the Bureau of Land Management. By this time, Interior had begun to take on the shape of the department it is today.
 
Additional duties assigned to Interior in the subsequent decades were oversight of Guam, American Samoa and the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (1950-51)(which has since divided into The Republic of the Marshall Islands, The Federated State of Micronesia and The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands), management of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (1977) to monitor state regulation of strip coal mining and repair of environmental damage and the Minerals Management Service (1982) to facilitate mineral revenue collection and manage the Outer Continental Shelf offshore lands.
 
Throughout its history, Interior has had leaders that have drawn public attention, for better or worse, to the department. During the administration of President Warren G. Harding, Interior Secretary Albert B. Fall was implicated in the biggest political scandal of the day - the Teapot Dome Scandal - in which Fall accepted bribes for leasing federal lands to two oilmen.
 
During the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Interior was run by Secretary Harold Ickes (the department’s longest serving leader), described by one historian as “a remarkably complex and profoundly suspicious man who thrived on rancorous debate and unending controversy. Ickes was known to intimidate those he worked with and even hired private investigators to tap the telephones of employees. Ickes was also credited with helping shape the department into the conservation-oriented operation it is today.
 
President John F. Kennedy’s secretary, Stewart Udall, continued to expand what Ickes began in making the department a leader in preserving America’s natural treasures. During his eight years in office, spanning the Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson administrations, Udall promoted the passage of the Federal Clean Air Act of 1963, the Wilderness Act of 1964, the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965, the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (PDF), the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968 and amendments strengthening the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1956. Among Udall’s other initiatives expanding Interior’s role and influence beyond its traditional western focus were the establishment of four national seashores along the Atlantic coast, major pollution abatement efforts on Lake Erie and the Hudson, Delaware and Potomac rivers and a highly publicized National Capital beautification campaign sponsored by Lady Bird Johnson .
 
The Republican administrations of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan did not embrace the eco-friendly mission of Interior. Nixon appointed former Alaska governor Walter Hickel to run the department, even though his record had a pro-development bent, while Reagan appointed one of Interior’s most infamous secretaries: James Watt. During his short tenure, Watt became a lightning rod for criticism from environmentalists because of his anti-conservation policies that promoted the use of federal lands by timber, oil and mining companies and ranchers. For more than two decades, Watt held the record for going the longest without adding an animal or plant to the endangered species list: 376 days. (The record was broken by Dirk Kempthorne, President George W. Bush’s second Interior secretary, who went two years and five days without listing a single species.)
 
Other noted Interior secretaries include Bruce Babbit (Clinton administration), who worked to protect scenic and historic areas of America’s federal public lands. Babbitt pushed for the creation of the National Landscape Conservation System, a collection of 15 national monuments and 14 national conservation areas. Babbitt was also the focus of a federal grand jury investigation into whether he had lied to Congress about having denied an Indian casino license in Wisconsin in return for political donations. Babbitt was ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing.
 
Following Babbitt was Gale A. Norton, President Bush’s first Interior secretary and the first woman to ever run the department (see Former Secretaries). 
 
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What it Does:

The Department of the Interior (DOI) is one of the oldest cabinet-level departments of the federal government, responsible for programs that manage America’s natural resources and preserve its environment. DOI essentially stewards the lands, waters and species of the United States so that the country can enjoy its natural beauty while also exploiting the precious minerals and fossil fuels contained within the Earth. Interior officials oversee National Parks and other government-designated sanctuaries, enforce laws protecting threatened species of fish and animal life, manage key water supplies that Western urban centers and farmers rely on, monitor mining activities and implement programs affecting Native American and Alaskans, including tribal gambling operations.

 
Key DOI offices:
Conservation and Commercial Exploitation
National Park Service NPS is responsible for overseeing, maintaining and preserving the National Park System, comprised of 391 areas covering more than 84 million acres. These areas include national parks, monuments, battlefields, military parks, historical parks, historic sites, lakeshores, seashores, recreation areas, and scenic rivers and trails. Notable areas such as the White House, the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty and Gettysburg are also under NPS administration. In addition to the national park system, the agency also oversees the National Historic Landmarks program and the National Register of Historic Places, including more than 8,000 monuments and statues. NPS offers grants and assistance to register, record and save historic lands and locations, to create community parks and recreation facilities, as well as conserve waterways and wildlife and develop trails and greenways.
 
Fish and Wildlife Service FWS serves as one of the most important federal agencies in the effort to protect endangered species and preserve habitats. FWS oversees a significant number of programs that seek to ensure the viability of coastal ecosystems, bird habitats and migratory routes, and freshwater and saltwater bodies of water for fish species. Along with the National Marine Fisheries Service, FWS is charged with implementing the Endangered Species Act. For much of its history, the agency has been a respected steward of the environment. However, under the leadership of appointees by President George W. Bush, the Fish and Wildlife Service has been routinely criticized by scientists and environmentalists for short-cutting important efforts to protect species threatened with extinction.
 
Bureau of Land Management BLM is responsible for managing the United States’ public lands. BLM oversees the use and conservation of 258 million acres, most of which is located in the American West and Alaska. A key responsibility of BLM is the issuance of leases to corporate interests to extract oil, natural gas and minerals from beneath public lands. This natural resource development, in effect since the 19th century, has left wide areas of American wilderness damaged by the effects of drilling and mining and provoked protests from environmental groups opposed to future oil, gas and mining activities in sensitive areas.
 
Bureau of Reclamation This section of the Interior Department is all about dams and ambitious water projects. During the 20th Century, Reclamation was responsible for building some of the nation’s most ambitious dam projects and for helping shape the American West. Because of the hundreds of dams the bureau created, Reclamation is the largest wholesaler of water in the United States, responsible for bringing water to more than 31 million people and hundreds of farms. Also, the bureau is the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the western United States, managing 58 power plants. Its legacy of dam building has made the bureau a magnet for controversy, both during its heyday of large water projects and today as ecosystems and fish species struggle to survive downstream of river diversions.
 
Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement OSM charged with the competing tasks of promoting coal production in the US while also trying to protect and restore the land that has been ravaged by surface, or strip, mining. For the most part, OSM has been successful in implementing task No. 1 and failed miserably at task No. 2. The agency has long been viewed as a favored ally of the coal industry, much to the frustration of environmentalists and local activists in states like Kentucky and West Virginia.
 
Minerals Management Service MMS manages the natural gas, oil and other mineral resources on the US outer continental shelf (OCS). MMS is responsible for collecting revenues generated from government leases of OCS lands as well as onshore mineral leases on federal and Native American lands to private oil and gas companies. These lease revenues represent some of the most important non-tax revenue that the federal government collects. However, MMS received bipartisan criticism in 2006 and 2007 for not fully collecting royalty payments from oil and gas companies.
 
Natural Resources Damage Assessment and Restoration Program NRDAR works in partnership with state, tribal and federal agencies to determine the adverse impacts caused by oil spills or hazardous substance releases to natural resources managed by the Interior Department. The program then negotiates a settlement with those responsible, or, if the accused party won’t settle, takes them to court, to garner funds for use in the restoration process, which the restoration program implements.
 
 
Native Americans
Bureau of Indian Affairs BIA is responsible for the administration and management of 55.7 million acres of land held in trust by the United States for American Indians, Indian tribes and Alaska Natives. Although there are 561 federally recognized tribal governments, it is BIA that controls the development of forestlands, leasing assets on these lands, directing agricultural programs, protecting water and land rights, and developing and maintaining infrastructure and economic development. BIA responsibilities and programs include the management of Indian trust accounts; tribal legitimacy; education; land management and resource protection; law enforcement; land consolidation; and the dispersion of certain federal grants.
 
Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians OST oversees the management and accountability of policies and practices regarding Indian funds held in trust by the federal government. OST manages approximately $2.5 billion in tribal funds and more than $400 million in Individual Indian Money (IIM) Accounts. It handles nearly $460 million in annual receipts and issues more than 513,000 checks per year. OST is entrusted with protecting and preserving the IIM assets and collecting and accurately accounting for income due. In addition, it is responsible for Indian land valuations, making estimates of market value for real property interests on land owned in trust or restricted status. Two years after it was created, OST was sued by a Native American woman claiming that potentially billions of dollars held since the late 1800s in trust for hundreds of thousands of Indians were accounted for improperly. The case is still pending.
 
National Indian Gaming Commission NIGC s an independent federal regulatory agency that monitors the work of Native American tribe’s gaming regulators, aiming to insure that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act is adhered to and promoting economic development and self-sufficiency within the tribes. Solely funded through fees collected from gaming operations under its jurisdiction, NIGC conducts investigations, background checks and audits; undertakes enforcement activities; approves ordinances before gaming can occur; and issues notices of violation and closure orders. It also works to stay on top of new innovations, ideas, and changes in technology, and provides training to the Indian gaming industry and regulators. In the mid-1990s, Republican lobbyist and businessman Jack Abramoff began representing some tribes with gambling interests, for which he received more than $85 million. It was eventually revealed that Abramoff had broken the law and he pleaded guilty to felony counts of conspiracy, fraud and tax evasion.  
 
Other
US Geological Survey USGS is a fact-finding agency that collects and provides scientific data about natural resource conditions, issues and challenges facing the country and the federal government. Originally founded in an effort to map and survey the US territories, today’s USGS program areas include biology, geography, geology, geospace and water. As a federal agency with a mandate for objective scientific study, the USGS often finds itself in the crossfire of political debates—over global warming, nuclear waste and nature/wildlife conservation.
 
Office of Insular Affairs OIA has administrative responsibility for coordinating federal policy in the territories of American Samoa, Guam, the US Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, as well as the oversight of federal programs and funds in the freely associated states of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. Additionally, OIA exercises some control in two of the nine smaller insular areas of Palmyra and the Wake Atolls. 
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Where Does the Money Go

The Interior Department has spent $28.6 billion on contractors this decade, according to USAspending.gov. More than 111,000 companies and organizations received Interior funds to provide telecommunications services, research and development, facility operations and maintenance, and engineering and technical services, among functions.

 
The biggest spenders within Interior were the Office of Policy, Management and Budget/Chief Financial Officer ($9.1 billion), Minerals Management Service ($5.2 billion), National Park Service ($4.3 billion), Bureau of Land Management ($2.4 billion) and Bureau of Reclamation ($2.2 billion).
 
The biggest recipients of contracts were:        
SAIC, Inc.
$849,555,670
Northrop Grumman
$735,705,404
Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.
$571,917,362
Nana Regional Corp.
$414,394,490
Cherryroad GT Inc.
$322,496,032
Dell Inc.
$314,761,168
Motorola, Inc.
$303,853,272
IBM
$289,307,843
BAE Systems PLC
$271,037,910
WPP Group PLC
$262,758,904
 
In addition to contracts, the Interior Department distributes millions of dollars in grants to help preserve endangered species. The Fish and Wildlife Service is one of the main distributors of such grants to state and local governments. In May 2008, the Fish and Wildlife Service awarded state and territorial wildlife agencies more than $60 million to help conserve and recover imperiled wildlife through the State Wildlife Grant Program.
 
In January 2008, FWS announced the release of $20.5 million in National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grants to fund 29 conservation projects encompassing nearly 10,000 acres of coastal wetlands. The grants are used to support coastal wetlands to provide long-term conservation benefits to fish, wildlife and habitat in California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Texas, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Maine, Maryland and Massachusetts, along with Puerto Rico.
 
The Fish and Wildlife Service also gave out more than $13.6 million in grants to 27 states under the Clean Vessel Act grant program in April 2008. The grants help fund the construction and installation of sewage pumpout facilities and floating restrooms and to purchase pumpout boats and for educational programs for recreational boaters.
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Controversies:

NPS Management Policies Create Friction

In 2005 a proposed revision of the National Park Service’s management policies caused division within the agency. A document was circulated outlining guiding principles for caretakers that covered both daily operations and long-term governance decisions for the park service. When agency watchdogs got a hold of the document, they accused NPS leaders of favoring recreational priorities over environmental preservation. As a result, the Interior Secretary threw out most of the proposed revisions.
 
According to the Organization of American Historians, the controversy began in August of 2005 when Interior Department Deputy Assistant Secretary Paul Hoffman, a former Congressional aide to Dick Cheney who had never worked for the National Park Service, drastically revised the NPS management policies. Hoffman’s revision would have allowed any activity—such as the installation of cell phone towers or the use of motorized vehicles in wilderness areas—that did not create an irreversible impact on park resources to take place. It also would have permitted the sale of religious merchandise within park boundaries.
NPS Controversy Nearing Resolution (by Susan Ferentinos, Organization of American Historians)
 
California Desert Left Out of Protection Status
In March 2008 environmental activists were outraged by an Interior Department decision to exclude large tracts of California desert from federal protection. Affected was more than half of the 10.6 million-acre California Desert Conservation Area that stretches from the Mexican border to Mono Lake.
 
The controversy stemmed from the Bureau of Land Management’s reading of a proposed Congressional plan to permanently protect 26 million acres of beautiful and historic landscapes in the American West. Because the California desert area didn’t contain “national” in its title, the conservation area didn’t qualify for protection, according to BLM attorneys.
 
But environmental groups and some BLM employees claimed that the semantics hid the political motives of utility companies that wanted to build hundreds of miles of electrical transmission corridors through California’s deserts. Also, off-road vehicle enthusiasts opposed further regulation of the area.
 
Supporters of the California desert want the area to be included in the National Landscape Conservation Act to unify the management and funding for areas such as the original Pony Express National Historic Trail, the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, a million acres of Alaskan caribou calving grounds, 38 wild rivers, Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and a tiny ghost town near the Mexican border.
 
FWS Scientists Stifled on Polar Bears
In 2007, the Fish and Wildlife Service prevented two Alaska scientists from speaking about polar bears, climate change or sea ice at international meetings. The controversial move came at a time when the federal government was proposing listing the polar bear as a threatened species. A former high-level Interior Department official in Anchorage called the effort by FWS a “gag order” designed to make the subjects of polar bears, climate change and sea ice off limits to all scientists who hadn't been cleared to speak on the topics.
 
Bush Administration Manipulates Data on Endangered Species
The Union of Concerned Scientists reported in 2006 that high-ranking political appointees within the Interior Department had rewritten scientific documents to prevent the protection of several threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Julie MacDonald - an engineer with no training in biology - personally reversed scientific findings, changed scientific conclusions to prevent endangered species from receiving protection, removed relevant information from a scientific document and ordered the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to adopt her edits.
 
Affected species included the greater sage grouse, the Gunnison sage grouse, the white-tailed prairie dog, the Gunnison's prairie dog, a fish known as the roundtail chub and a tree found in the Mariana Islands.
 
In a survey of FWS scientists published the previous year, 84 scientists reported having been directed to inappropriately exclude or alter technical information from FWS scientific documents. Furthermore, 303 scientists, or two thirds of those who responded to the survey, knew of cases where Interior Department political appointees had interfered with scientific determinations.
Survey: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Scientists (Union of Concerned Scientists)
 
Bureau Violates Endangered Species Act
In 2005, a federal court ruled that the Bureau of Reclamation violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) when it renewed long-term contracts for irrigation water diverted from the San Joaquin River at Friant Dam near Fresno. As a result of the water diversion, 60 miles of California’s second longest river remained bone dry, causing harm to endangered salmon and other threatened fish and wildlife.
 
The court ruled that the bureau had ignored the ESA requirement to recover endangered species rather than simply prevent a further decline toward extinction. While environmentalists hailed the decision, farmers and bureau officials expressed concerns that voiding the contracts would have dire economic effects on the agriculture industry.
 
The bureau’s decision to sign long-term water contacts perpetuated the environmental disaster that occurred after Friant Dam was finished in 1942. The diversion of the river resulted in the extermination of the historically large and vibrant San Joaquin River spring Chinook run that ascended the Sierra Nevada before Friant Dam blocked upstream migration.
Judge's ruling on dam opens dialogue (by Juliana Barbassa, Associated Press)
 
Yucca Mountain
One of the biggest environmental controversies involving the federal government over the past 20 years took a new turn recently when three US Geological Survey scientists were caught falsifying documents on Nevada’s Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump project. Evidence of fabricated data surfaced in government emails in 2005, as the Department of Energy (DOE) was preparing its application for a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to store more than 70,000 tons of the most hazardous radioactive waste at the controversial site.
 
Interested in Yucca Mountain since the late 1980s, the DOE had conducted extensive research of the site, and USGS was brought in to help determine its safety as a waste repository. The USGS employees in question, contracted hydrologists studying water flow through the mountain, falsified documents regarding water data during a quality assurance phase of the project from1998-2000. Water data are particularly important for determining viability of the site because safety depends on water levels inside the storage area—and how long it takes for water to filter from the mountain rock to the surrounding water bodies. The data in question were manipulated in favor of a positive safety rating for the DOE’s plans.
 
A 1996 study by Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico had indicated that water takes only a few decades to flow through the mountain, raising concern that the waste storage containers could erode and leak nuclear waste into the water system. The DOE maintained that subsequent studies (including USGS models) had shown that water movement through the site was much slower, and therefore made it safe for storage. In 1998, more than 200 public interest organizations petitioned the DOE to disqualify the site and “declare it unsuitable for further consideration as a high-level nuclear waste repository.” The petition was based in part on a finding of chlorine-36 at elevated levels deep inside the mountain, indicating a rapid water flow.
 
DOE officials wound up admitting that documents regarding the safety of water infiltration at Yucca Mountain had been fabricated. The email scandal elicited FBI and DOI investigations, but no criminal charges, and it was subsequently downplayed by the government. But the tainted body of work USGS had invested in the Yucca Mountain project called into question the scientific basis for DOE’s license application, and DOE had to invest an additional $13 million to redo the research. The Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board (an independent committee charged with assessing YM progress, which reports to Congress) subsequently reported that the second body of research was not nearly as sound as the work it replaced.
Report Downplays Yucca Mountain Email Scandal (Environmental News Service)
Yucca Mountain data fabricated (By Brenda Norrell, Lakota Times)
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Debate:

To Drill or Not to Drill

The Department of the Interior is one of the key players in the ongoing debate over whether to expand oil drilling in Alaska. The issue has emerged as one of the most contentious debates in environmental politics this decade, as the Bush administration has pushed repeatedly for Congress to allow exploration by oil companies into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
 
ANWR was created in 1960 by President Dwight Eisenhower, who placed the land and its wildlife under federal protection. The area, mostly frozen tundra, lies north of the Arctic Circle and is home to more than 45 species of land and marine mammals. Millions of migratory birds nest along its coastal plains, and polar bears, grizzly bears, moose and caribou roam free. The refuge also houses a tribe of 220 Native Alaskans.
 
The effort on the part of the Bush administration began shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, as Republican supporters of Alaskan oil drilling tried to frame the debate as a national security one by linking amendments to open up ANWR with a defense authorization bill. The attempt failed, but the administration was far from giving up.
 
In 2004, Bush officials in the Interior Department submitted their 2005 budget request for DOI, which indicated the department’s plans for easing environmental regulations on public lands, increasing domestic energy production and shifting conservation efforts from the federal government to states and the private sector. Again, the effort failed to succeed in opening ANWR to drilling.
 
In 2008, as gasoline prices soared to their highest levels in the nation’s history, the debate over drilling off the coast of California arose. Although ANWR has not been a featured part of the current discussion, many environmentalists - who oppose more Alaska oil drilling - expect it is only a matter of time before drilling proponents turn their attention north once again.
 
Pro:
Proponents of opening ANWR to drilling include Interior Department officials, such as former and current Interior secretaries Gale Norton and Dirk Kempthorne, President Bush, Republicans in Congress and petroleum and gas companies. They point to the fact that ANWR sits above one of the countries largest untapped oil reserves. In 1998, the US Geological Survey estimated that the region could contain about 10.4 billion barrels of undeveloped oil. This amount of oil, if tapped, would have a significant impact on US oil production. American oil companies currently produce 2.1 billion barrels of oil a year, mostly from Alaska, California and Texas. However, that output is only 30 percent of total US consumption - 7 billion barrels a year. The remaining oil is.
 
With ANWR containing the potential for 1 million additional barrels of oil a day for the US, it is imperative that the country develop this supply to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil and thus reduce the price of gas at the pump. For example, ANWR oil would almost equal America’s daily imports from Saudi Arabia. Additionally, President Bush has pointed out that developing a small section of ANWR would create thousands of new jobs.
 
Con
Numerous environmentalist groups and Democrats in Congress are opposed to opening up the wildlife refuge to drilling. They refer to ANWR as “North America’s Serengeti,” after the fertile plains of East Africa where thousands of animal species travel during an annual migration. One species in particular that could be irrevocably harmed is the polar bear, one of America’s most loved animals, whose habitat could become compromised if oil companies are allowed to extract oil.
 
The Sierra Club has argued that even if American companies were allowed to drill oil from ANWR, the amount would not represent the boon to domestic oil production that proponents have claimed. With only 5% of the world’s population, the US consumes 26% of the world’s oil, club officials point out. At its peak of production, Arctic Refuge oil could supply perhaps 1% of America’s energy needs at any given time, which would not be enough to significantly reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil. Instead, the nation needs to put more emphasis and money into developing alternative forms of energy to reduce US dependence and eliminate the need to tap into one America’s most cherished, undeveloped regions.
 
Background
Alaska Drilling Debate Heats Up (by Jeffrey Benner, Wired)
The ANWR Drilling Debate (by Gwen Ifill, PBS NewsHour)
Our Fake Drilling Debate (George F. Will, Washington Post)
Arctic Oil Drilling Debate Escalates (by Ben Spiess, National Geographic)
Polar bear habitat at center of Alaska drilling debate (by Brad Knickerbocker, Christian Science Monitor)
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Suggested Reforms:

Indian Trust in Need of Change

Since the 19th Century, the federal government has allowed mining, oil, timber and other companies to extract resources from Native American reservation lands. Proceeds from these leases are supposed to be set aside in a special trust and monies distributed among federally-recognized tribes. For decades, Native American officials have claimed that the government was not properly reporting or collecting these monies to tribal governments, and finally in 1996, a lawsuit was filed challenging the Indian trust.
 
The controversy prompted Interior Department officials to request a study that examined its accounting system for the Indian trust. The DOI Trust Reform report (PDF) produced the following findings and recommendations:
 
Findings
-        Trust Reform has lacked a vision or strategy
-        There was no overarching fiduciary duty focus to trust management activities and operations as directed by the American Indian Trust Fund Management Reform Act of 1994
-        Trust reform subprojects were not well coordinated or integrated resulting in a fragmented approach to addressing Trust Reform.
-        Beneficiaries were not receiving the level and type of service normally found in a commercial bank trust
-        Inefficiencies exist in the management of the trust. A number of processes need to be streamlined and technologies introduced to reduce cost and improve service.
-        There was a lack of adequate resources to conduct trust activities
 
Recommendations
-        Develop a fiduciary duty focus and strategy to trust management activities and operations.
-        Create a beneficiary approach to trust activities and service delivery.
-        Develop enterprise architecture to facilitate fiduciary responsibilities and the beneficiary approach.
-        Create an organizational model with adequate resources to support the trust business model.
-        Improve efficiency of trust management processes and apply appropriate industry standards.
-        Establish clear metrics to manage trust business and assess performance.
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Former Directors:

Gale Norton (January 2001 - March 2006)

 
Gale Norton became the first woman to head the Interior Department after President George W. Bush nominated her at the beginning of his first term in office. Norton graduated magna cum laude from the University of Denver in 1975 and earned her law degree with honors from the same university in 1978.
 
Norton has been described as a protégé of former Interior Secretary James Watt.
From 1979 to 1983, Norton worked as a senior attorney for the Mountain States Legal Foundation. In 1983 Norton moved to the conservative Hoover Institution, where she urged a market-based approach to controlling air pollution. She also served on the advisory boards of two right-wing groups, Defenders of Property Rights and the Washington Legal Foundation.
 
She then moved to Washington, DC, where she served as assistant to the deputy secretary of agriculture and as associate solicitor of the Interior Department overseeing endangered species and public lands legal issues for the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service.
 
From 1991 to 1999, Norton served as attorney general of Colorado. In 1998, she founded a group called the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy (CREA) to counter the image that Democrats are the party that protects the environment. CREA was described by one Republican as a front to obscure the records of Republicans with bad environmental records. The sponsors for CREA’s kickoff gala included the Chlorine Chemical Council, National Coal Council, Chemical Manufacturers Association and the National Mining Association.
 
After serving as attorney general, Norton joined the firm of Brownstein, Hyatt & Farber as a senior counsel—a title that belied her lobbying work with the Colorado Legislature and Congress. The firm lobbied on behalf of 45 clients, including Delta Petroleum Corporation, Timet-Titanium Metals Corporation, the Shaw Group, Ustman Technologies and Warren Rogers Associates, all of whom had interests with the Interior Department.
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Comments

Jeanne Cain 4 weeks ago
Please do not lift the ban on killing elephants in Zimbabwe and allowing hunters to bring the trophies into the United States. Killing for the sport of it is wrong and lifting the ban encourages more hunters to do so. We are sending the wrong message to the rest of the world.
mary beth 4 months ago
To dismiss two climate change scientists from the Glacier National Park tour with Mark Zuckerberg.. is to admit that the GOP is not fact based.. does not support SCIENCE.. is not the party that should be leading us through our environmental crisis point.. DENIAL of facts.. results in denial of problem solving.. this is NO WAY TO RUN A COUNTRY.. your legacy will haunt you AND your grandchildren.. Let's work together and start with becoming FACT BASED.
beth Costanza 5 months ago
After reading the various areas the Dept of the Interior is charged with, I find that several areas are in direct conflict with each other: coal mining vs clean air and water, fishing, oil drilling vs marine sanctuaries, Indian Affairs vs numerous areas of conflict including managing tribes finances, gambling - just to mention a few. Beth Costanza
Beth Costanza 5 months ago
My family, friends and millions of other Americans implore your department and Pres. Trump not to remove the National Monument Designation for any of the lands designated by President Obama and other US Presidents who declared them as worthy of such a designation. The beautiful San Gabriel Mountains Monument, Mojave Trails, Carrizo Plain, Sand to Snow, Berryessa Snow Mountain and Giant Sequoia, all must be protected for ourselves and for the future generations. Please note John Muir, "Every natural object is a conductor of divinity." All marine sanctuaries on California's coast must be preserved, as well (Channel Islands, Monterey Bay, the Greater Farallones, and Cordell Bank.) Beth and Angelo Costanza
Chuck Martinez 1 year ago
I am a retired Airborne Combat Commando Platoon Seargent and Fed Cop! I have seen BLM over used their law enforcement entities to force Ranchers out of land they have worked for many years. In forcing them out, they went a step where an innocent Rancher was killed. They murdered a Rancher by the name of MR. Lavoy in cold blood in a well orchestrated ambush! I personally am an expert in ambushes as I conducted many live ambushers myself during the war. After viewing the vedio over 25 times, I am surprised that no one has been arrested for this hainious crime of the murder of an innocent American civilian! I am waiting for the coming elections to bring this case up with the new incoming president. Our law-enforcement agencies are supposed to protect our citizens, not murder them just because they think they could but not in this country, never!!!!!
Danny Baker 1 year ago
Why has our government not done something to isolate these terrorists in Oregon? Cut off the water, electric but leave them internet so they can see a L the ridiculing posts online. WHY haven't we had a coordinated effort to blockade this bunch of criminals? WHY are we allowing people to come and go from OUR refuge? WHY are we allowing them to gather other militants to support them? Lock it up and starve them out!
Melody Martin 4 years ago
was our United States Department of Interior responsible for creating maps of interested areas to and for our military? Meaning areas occupied by or controlled by government(s) as precieved during a period of time requested.

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Founded: 1849
Annual Budget: $16.8 billion
Employees: 68,000
Official Website: http://www.doi.gov/

Department of the Interior

Zinke, Ryan
Secretary

During his political career, Ryan Zinke’s position on climate change has moved from supporting legislation to slow the effects of the phenomenon to doubting that mankind has caused global warming. Now, Zinke, a Montana congressman who was confirmed by a 68 to 31 U.S. Senate vote on March 1, 2017, to be secretary of the Department of the Interior, will be leading one of the departments most tied to climate change. At his confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, he supported coal mining on federal lands, but also opposed the sale or transfer of federal lands.

 

Zinke was born in Bozeman, Montana, on November 1, 1961, to Ray, a plumber, and Jean Zinke. Zinke played football at Whitefish High School, and after he graduated in 1980 he went on to play center at the University of Oregon. He graduated from there in 1984 with a B.S. in geology. He later earned an MBA from National University in 1991 and an M.S. in global leadership from the University of San Diego in 2003.

 

Zinke wanted to be a deep-sea diver and was persuaded to join the Navy in 1986. He went into the SEALs, the Navy’s commando unit. He rose quickly through the ranks, but in the mid-1990s took a trip to Montana on the taxpayers’ dime that Zinke claimed was to scout training sites for the SEALs. The Navy thought otherwise—some reports had Zinke using the trip to work on family property—and he was forced to repay the government $211 for his airfare.

 

Zinke served on the famous (and infamous) SEAL Team Six from 1990 to 1993 and from 1996 to 1999 as a team leader, ground force commander, task force commander and current operations officer, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Kosovo. He also served in Iraq and in 2004 was made deputy and acting commander of Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Arabian Peninsula. Zinke was never made a commander of a unit, however, and contemporaries pointed to the Montana “scouting” trip as the reason. Zinke denied this and retired in 2008 with the rank of commander.

 

Zinke returned to Montana and won a seat in the state senate, where he was seen as a moderate Republican. In 2010, he was among more than 1,000 state legislators to sign a letter to President Brack Obama and Congress calling for “comprehensive clean energy jobs and climate change legislation.”

 

In 2012, Zinke ran for lieutenant governor in the Montana Republican primary, but his ticket finished fifth out of seven entrants. That year, he also founded a Super PAC, Special Operations for America. It paid for anti-Obama advertising that year, but spent far more on “fundraising consulting” fees paid to Continental Divide International, which was owned by Zinke, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. According to Zinke’s 2014 financial report, he resigned from Special Operations for America in 2013, after which it began funding his congressional campaign. However, the following year’s report showed that he was still chairman of the organization in 2014. Super PACs are not supposed to have any connection with the candidates they support.

 

As part of the 2014 campaign, Zinke sent out fundraising emails with the header “Who killed Osama bin Laden?” In the emails, he wrote “I spent 23 years as a Navy SEAL and served as a Team Leader on SEAL Team Six — the team responsible for the mission to get Osama bin Laden.” What he didn’t mention in the emails was that he’d been out of the Navy for three years when the mission against bin Laden was carried out. During that campaign, Zinke also made a statement saying that while humans have some role in climate change, “the evidence is equally as strong that there are other factors, such as rising ocean temperatures, that have a greater influence.”

 

Zinke won election to Congress and took seats on the House Armed Services and Natural Resources committees. He was dogged by another controversy when he ran for reelection in 2016. This time, it was a question of whether he actually lived in Montana.

 

Zinke claimed that he lived at his parents’ old home there. But corporate records show the house belonging to Zinke’s corporation. The house was approved by the city of Whitefish for use as a bed and breakfast, called the Snowfrog Inn, and even has its own webpage. Meanwhile, Zinke appeared to spend much of his time in Santa Barbara, California, home of his wife, Lola. He’s even had fundraisers for other politicians advertised as being held at his Santa Barbara home. He also listed a Santa Barbara address in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing he made for another corporation he owns in 2013. He received twice as many campaign contributions from California in 2016 as he did from Montana. Nevertheless, Zinke won reelection just before being nominated by Donald Trump to lead the Interior Department.

 

Zinke and his wife, the former Lolita Hand, have two adult sons, Wolfgang and Konrad, and a daughter, Jennifer, who is a U.S. Navy diver.

-Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More:

Ryan Zinke Statement for Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

Zinke’s Nomination Could Bring Questions About Super PAC Ties (by Soo Rin Kim, Center for Responsive Politics)

Trump Taps Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke as Interior Secretary (by Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post)

Zinke Decries Attacks on his Montana Residency (by Jayme Fraser and Holly Michels, The Missoulian)

Does Congressman Zinke Even Live in Montana or is He California Dreamin’? (by Don Pogreba, Intelligent Discontent)

Does Being a Veteran Help Candidates? A Montana Politician Hopes So (by Alan Zarembo, Los Angeles Times)

U.S. House Candidate Profile: Ryan Zinke (by Charles S. Johnson, Ravalli Republic)

His Former Commander Exposes Ryan Zinke’s Navy SEAL Career and Defective “Moral Make-Up” (by Don Pogreba, Intelligent Discontent

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Jewell, Sally
Previous Secretary

President Barack Obama has nominated a new leader for the Department of the Interior—the cabinet-level agency that focuses on conservation and use of federal lands, balancing the preservation of natural wonders with the economic development of public lands. Nominated on February 6, 2013, Sally Jewell is an avid outdoorswoman who has spent her career in the private sector. Jewell was confirmed by the Senate on April 10, succeeding Ken Salazar, who had served since January 20, 2009.

 

Born in 1955 in England, Jewell is the daughter of Anne (née Murphy), a nurse, midwife and nurse practitioner for 60 years, and Peter Roffey, an anesthesiologist who moved the family to Seattle, Washington, when Sally was four to work at the University of Washington. Sally Jewell graduated in 1973 from Renton High School, and earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering in 1978 at the University of Washington.

 

Although she worked for Mobil Oil in Oklahoma from 1978 through 1981, Jewell spent twenty years of her career in the banking industry. In 1981, she joined Rainier Bank, which was hiring engineers to advise on lending to oil companies, and stayed after Rainier was acquired by Security Pacific Bank until 1992, when it was acquired by Bank of America. At Security Pacific, Jewell ran the bank’s business-banking activities. Jewell worked for WestOne Bank from 1992 to 1995 and for Washington Mutual from 1995 to 2000.

 

While at Washington Mutual, Jewell joined the board of outdoor products retailer REI, the nation’s largest consumer cooperative, in 1996. In 2000, the board hired her to be REI’s chief operating officer, and in 2005 she succeeded Dennis Madsen as chief executive officer. Jewell has promoted green policies at REI, which uses energy-efficient building materials, buys renewable energy, and offsets the carbon emissions from store-sponsored travel-adventure packages by buying “green tags,” which subsidize alternative energy in developing countries.

 

Jewell has sat on the boards of Premera, the National Parks Conservation Association, and the University of Washington Board of Regents. She is also a founding board member and immediate past president of the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust.

 

Jewell is a lifelong lover of the outdoors, whose father became an REI member shortly after moving to Seattle and took the family on many camping trips, the first of them to Mount Rainier National Park. She has climbed Vinson Massif (elev.: 16,050 ft.) the highest mountain in Antarctica.

 

Jewell, who resides in Seattle, is married to Warren Jewell, also an engineer, with whom she has two adult children. A lifelong Democrat, Jewell has made political donations totaling $40,800 since 2006, 44% of it to two trade associations—the Outdoor Industry Association ($11,500) and the Retail Industry Leaders Association ($6,500). The remainder went overwhelmingly to Democratic candidates and causes, including $2,300 to Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, $4,800 to Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington), $2,000 to Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), and $900 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2012. Her only donations to Republicans have been $1,000 to Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Washington) and $500 to Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s 2009 re-election campaign.

 

To Learn More:

A Profile of REI’s Sally Jewell: Team player at her Peak (by Monica Soto Ouchi, Seattle Times)

Executive Q & A: Sally Jewell, President and CEO of REI (by Leslie D. Helm, Seattle Business)

Sally Jewell, CEO of Outdoor Retailer REI, Nominated for Interior Secretary (by Danica Zupic, Wildlife Society News)

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