Here are reactions to Saturday’s announcement that embattled Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke would be stepping down at year’s end:
“Utah’s federal public lands are unquestionably worse off because of Zinke’s corrupt and disastrous tenure as secretary of the Interior. From spearheading the dismantling of Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears national monuments to fast-tracking oil and gas leasing across Utah’s redrock wilderness, Zinke’s legacy is one of prioritizing short-term exploitation and profiteering over the protection and sound stewardship of America’s public lands.
"He will undoubtedly go down as one of the worst Interior secretaries in living memory. Good riddance.”
Stephen Bloch, legal director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance
“@SecretaryZinke’s decision to put mining interests over those who ❤️the land cost #SLC millions of dollars through the loss of @OutdoorRetailer. This is why SLC supported @NRDC, @CenterForBioDiv & others in lawsuits challenging the move. #BearsEars.”
Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski
“In the world of Washington politics, Zinke was an anomaly. He had a vision of a better future — an efficient department; a park system without a backlog; a staff who listened. Where others dithered he got stuff done. We owe him a debt of gratitude.”
Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee
“Zinke will go down as the worst Interior secretary in history. His slash-and-burn approach was absolutely destructive for public lands and wildlife. Allowing [Deputy Interior Secretary] David Bernhardt to continue to call the shots will still be just as ugly. Different people, same appetite for greed and profit.”
Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity
“Zinke resigns: A good day. Zinke’s replacement — scary as hell because he is shrewd + smart, drips w/oil + connections. With David Bernhardt, we must be more vigilant.”
Terry Tempest Williams, author and environmental activist
“Ryan Zinke came to the Interior Department with an ambitious vision for overseeing the nation’s great natural resources, but he ultimately broke his contract with the Americans people. His actions — such as undermining the federal Antiquities Act, diminishing good faith collaborative successes in sage grouse management, and pushing resource exploitation at the expense of conservation — eroded public goodwill."
Land Tawney, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers president and CEO
“It may have been the ethics inquiries that did him in, or perhaps it was always in the cards to do two years, but from where I stand, Secretary Zinke’s biggest failure is that he aspired to be a Teddy Roosevelt conservationist and fell woefully short. ...
"He led the charge to downsize many of our treasured national monuments and, depending on the courts, may have forever damaged Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments.
"The next Interior secretary would do well to remember that Americans are wild about protecting our natural resources and she or he should make the ‘grand pivot’ to conservation that Zinke never did.”
Steve Blackledge, senior director of Environment America’s conservation program
“Ryan Zinke’s tenure at the Department of Interior was a disaster for public lands of historic proportions. The public and Congress should continue their commitment to vigilant oversight over the ongoing ethical abuses at Interior in order to repair its reputation.”
Chris Saeger, executive director of the Western Values Project
“Secretary Zinke has been an outstanding leader with the utmost integrity. We will miss him.”
Phil Lyman, San Juan County commissioner and Utah state representative-elect