Last week, after Trump’s Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke met with Colorado Republican state senators, including Kevin Grantham of Canon City, Beth Martinez Huminek of Westminster, and Randy Baumgardner of Hot Sulphur Springs, he meandered up to Steamboat Springs, where he gave a lengthy interview praising Trump and warning against blaming climate change for Colorado’s wildfires.
Grantham tweeted that Zinke, who’s in charge of public lands, was doing a “great job,” but the Steamboat Springs Pilot asked Zinke not about his boosters but about how he felt about his critics.
Zinke said they don’t “even want to look at the truth.”
“There’s a lot of angry people out there, and quite frankly, they don’t even want to look at the truth, and it’s just a series of attacks without merit. At the heart of it, you do right, and you fear no one. I’m passionate about public lands. I’m passionate about never selling them, never transferring it, but we have to manage it, and there has been a consequence I believe of almost environmental terrorism, where we’re limiting access, shutting down roads, not having the ability to remove dead, dying trees. It comes at a cost.”
But Zinke, formerly a businessman, is seen as an ally by right-wing activists who advocate transferring management of federal lands to the states.
He’s led the charge to reverse Obama-era executive orders that preserved lands at the Bear’s Ears and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Utah. His department has loosened restrictions on migratory bird kills. Since his appointment to lead the Interior Department, he’s been heavily criticized by scientists, American Indian tribes, ethicists, and others.
Trump is “delightful to work for,” Zinke told Steamboat Springs Pilot reporter Matt Strensland, adding that the president is “actually doing exactly what he said he’d do.”
The phrase “delightful to work for” and the word “Trump” are not often paired with each other, according to a Google search.
“President Trump is a businessman, and it’s really easy to figure out the direction where the president is going because in the White House he has a huge chalkboard — you know, whiteboard — that has campaign promises,” Zinke said in the interview. “And many of those campaign promises are crossed off.”
“I think people have to look at removing the hatred, which is I think shameful,” Zinke told the Pilot. “And the intolerance. When President Trump is mentioned in some quarters, there is anger and intolerance.”
Zinke defended himself from attacks on his travel, saying he followed all procedures. He denied having any relationship with Whitefish Energy, other than having graduated from White Fish High School.
Zinke went on to deliver a lecture at the Steamboat Institute, where a protester yelled, “Why won’t you acknowledge that climate change is causing and accelerating wildfires, even in Routt County?”
Zinke shouted back, “You know what? You haven’t served and you don’t understand what energy is. I’d like to see your child have to fight for energy.”