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Trump’s interior secretary to step down

December 16, 2018

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WASHINGTON: US Inte­r­ior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who has sought to open US offshore waters to oil and gas drilling despite environmental protests, will be leaving his post at the end of the year, Pre­sident Donald Trump tweeted on Saturday, the latest high-profile departure from his administration.

Trump did not give a reason for Zinke’s departure. However, the former Navy Seal and ex-congressman from Montana has faced multiple probes into his use of security details, chartered flights and a real estate deal.

“Ryan has accomplished much during his tenure and I want to thank him for his service to our Nation,” Trump said on Twitter. “The Trump administration will be announcing the new secretary of the Interior next week,” he added.

Zinke has run the interior department overseeing America’s vast public lands since early 2017. He has pursued Trump’s agenda to promote oil drilling and coal mining by expanding federal leasing, cutting royalty rates and easing land protections.

Zinke, 51, was among Trump’s most active cabinet members, cutting huge wilderness around national monuments in Utah to a fraction of their size and proposing offshore oil drilling in the Arctic, Pacific and Atla­n­­tic. He became a darling of the US energy and mining industries and a prime target for conservationists and environmental groups.

His departure makes him the ninth cabinet-level official to leave a post since Trump took office two years ago.

Published in Dawn, December 16th, 2018