U.S. Interior Secretary Zinke resigns citing “false and fictitious” allegations

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has announced his resignation, citing “false and fictitious” allegations behind the decision.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke / Image by Gage Skidmore / Flickr, shared under CC BY-SA 2.0 license
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke / Image by Gage Skidmore / Flickr, shared under CC BY-SA 2.0 license

Zinke, a former Navy Seal, on Saturday released a statement in which he said:”It’s a great honor to serve the American People as their Interior Secretary I love working for the President and am incredibly proud of all the good work we’ve accomplished together. However, after 30 years of public service, I cannot justify spending thousands of dollars defending myself and my family against false allegations. It is better for the President and Interior to focus on accomplishments rather than fictitious allegations.”

While Zinke did not go into details on what allegations forced him to leave, the Twitter community has been sharing an article titled “A Guide to the 17 Federal Investigations into Ryan Zinke” produced by CREW (Citizens for responsibility and ethics in Washington).

In the article, published in August 2018, CREW said:

Since taking office in March 2017, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has emerged as one of the most ethically dubious members of President Trump’s Cabinet.
CREW found that Zinke has racked up 17 federal investigations into his behavior since becoming Secretary. While a few of these investigations have cleared Zinke of wrongdoing, many remain ongoing, and — perhaps most concerning — several were closed or were inconclusive due to a lack of cooperation with the probe or the Interior Department’s failure to keep proper records.

The list compiled by CREW, shows Zinke linked to alleged threat to Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) during the healthcare debate; Staff reassignments that may have been politically motivated, Potentially improper chartered flights; Halted mining study;  Potential Hatch Act violation; Censorship in a climate change report, Real estate and microbrewery deal with an oil services executive and more… Read the full list here.

Commenting on Zinke’s departure, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Alaska, the same senator whom Zinke reportedly threatened during a debate, commended the outgoing secretary saying he will be missed and wishing him the best.

She said. “I was disappointed to learn that Secretary Zinke is stepping down. He has been a strong partner for western states and for Alaska, in particular. After years of frustration with the Department, he came in and took a very different approach – he listened to us, built a great team, and worked with us to advance our priorities. From responsible development in the 1002 Area and a life-saving road for the people of King Cove, to his efforts to secure energy dominance and eliminate the maintenance backlog at our National Parks, Secretary Zinke has accomplished a lot of good things for our country. We will miss him but wish him the best.”

Murkowski is chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and the Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee.



U.S. President Trump said on Saturday on Twitter: “Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke will be leaving the Administration at the end of the year after having served for a period of almost two years. Ryan has accomplished much during his tenure and I want to thank him for his service to our Nation. The Trump Administration will be announcing the new Secretary of the Interior next week.”



Commenting on the announcement Greenpeace USA Climate Director Janet Redman said: “Zinke stripped away protections for places like Bear’s Ears, used an oil industry executive’s private plane to get around, and essentially planted a “For Sale to Industry” sign on our protected public lands. As Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke didn’t bother pretending he wasn’t working for the fossil fuel industry instead of for the people of the United States.”

Offshore Wind record

While Zinke has been throughout his tenure criticized by conservation groups as someone serving fossil fuel industry’s interests, somewhat ironically, Zinke’s resignation on Saturday morning followed a historic offshore wind lease sale on Friday organized by the Interior Department.

Three companies filed $405 million in winning bids for Massachusetts offshore wind. Areas could support approximately 4.1 gigawatts of commercial wind generation.

The lease sale was the U.S. eighth and highest grossing competitive lease sale for renewable energy in federal waters. Eleven companies took part, and three won. The winning bidders were Equinor Wind, an affiliate of the Norwegian oil giant Equnior, Mayflower Wind Energy ( a 50:50 joint venture between EDPR and Shell), and Vineyard Wind.

“To anyone who doubted that our ambitious vision for energy dominance would not include renewables, today we put that rumor to rest,” said Secretary Zinke. “With bold leadership, faster, streamlined environmental reviews, and a lot of hard work with our states and fishermen, we’ve given the wind industry the confidence to think and bid big,” Zinke said on Friday in what would turn out to be the last lease sale during his tenure as the Interior Secretary.

Read more on the Massachusets offshore wind lease sale on our sister website OffshoreWind.biz.

Offshore Energy Today Staff