Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

For Immediate Release

Contact

Taylor McKinnon, (801) 300-2414, tmckinnon@biologicaldiversity.org

Press Release

Public Records Sought Over Massive Interior Senior Staffing Shake-up

WASHINGTON -

The Center for Biological Diversity today filed a Freedom of Information Act request for public records that address the sweeping reassignment of dozens of high-level staff within the Department of the Interior by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

According to The Washington Post, three dozen or more Interior Department leaders received letters on Thursday providing 15 days’ notice of job changes. Those targeted for job changes include Joel Clement, Interior’s top climate official; five senior staff at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (including those responsible for saving endangered species); and other senior staff within the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the National Park Service.

The scope of the job reassignments is unprecedented among past administrations, and timing of the notices suggests that the job changes will happen at the earliest date Zinke is allowed to enact such changes under the law. 

“Ryan Zinke is already among history’s most hostile Interior secretaries when it comes to public lands, endangered species, national parks and American Indian tribes,” said Taylor McKinnon with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Now, in typical Trump administration fashion, he’s sowing chaos in the ranks of the agency’s leadership. Kicking out these kinds of long-term staffers opens the door to all sorts of trouble, including sweetheart deals for polluters.”

The Senior Executive Service, or SES, was created by the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 to “ensure that the executive management of the Government of the United States is responsive to the needs, policies, and goals of the Nation and otherwise is of the highest quality.”

SES staff are executive-level federal employees who occupy positions immediately beneath presidential appointments. According to the nonprofit Senior Executive Association, they provide “institutional stability and continuity across administrations, and serve as a vital link between political appointees, frontline managers, and the federal workforce of approximately two million employees.”

“It’s important for the Center and for the public to see these records to shed light on these massive staffing changes,” said McKinnon, “and it’s particularly important considering the potential impacts these changes may have on the way the Interior agencies are able to protect our collective interests regarding our country’s lands, waters and wildlife.”

Download today’s request here.

###

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive. 

Ukraine Responds to Putin Annexations With Fast-Track NATO Application

Lamenting the lack of any progress toward a diplomatic settlement, one anti-war campaigner asked: "Will the world stand idly by as we careen towards nuclear apocalypse?"

Jake Johnson ·


'Their Price Strategies Are Bearing Fruit': Oil and Coal Profits Surge 340%

A leading economist urged policymakers to "address corporate profiteering as a driver of inflation by reining in megacorporations and addressing the unsustainably high prices facing families around the country."

Kenny Stancil ·


'Don't Look Away': Tlaib Ties Death of 7-Year-Old Palestinian to US Aid to Israel

"$3.8 billion+ of our money is funding this. Enough. It must stop."

Jessica Corbett ·


In Viral Parody Ad, Chevron Admits It Is 'Actively Murdering You'

Produced by the director of "Don't Look Up," the ad assures viewers Chevron has "billions and billions of dollars to pay for this commercial time, this cheesy footage, and this bullshit music."

Julia Conley ·


Host 'Censored and Fired' by The Hill Over Segment on Tlaib Naming Israeli Apartheid

"Sadly, Israel is an apartheid state and we have to push back," said progressive commentator Katie Halper. "And when we encounter censorship, we can't just run away with our tails between our legs."

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo