The saga of the metaphorical revolving door at the front of the Trump administration is continuing this week. U.S. President Donald Trump has buttressed his volatile policy platform with a volatile roster of staffers, and now, he’s losing another one.
Acting U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service head Greg Sheehan revealed this week that despite previously promising to stay on board at the agency through his full term, he’s leaving the Interior Department. He cited a desire to return to spending more time with his family back home in Utah.
His entire time at the Fish and Wildlife Service was mired in controversy. He never even went through the formal confirmation process, instead serving as the “acting” administrator of the agency.
Government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity Brett Hartl is among those happy with Sheehan leaving his post, commenting:
‘Sheehan’s departure is welcome news for America’s wildlife. In just one year in office, he inflicted incredible harm on imperiled animals by consistently putting special interests ahead of science and the environment. His actions derailed the recovery of countless endangered species, gutted protections for billions of migratory birds and wreaked havoc on our natural heritage.’
It’s not as though Sheehan’s powers were ever stunted in light of his unorthodox ascent to the top. He’s the one who first announced the Trump administration’s intent to lift a previously imposed ban on the import of elephant hunting trophies from African nations. That blanket move was eventually halted and replaced with a case-by-case consideration of attempted big game hunting trophy imports into the United States.
That’s not where his mark ends, however. While in his position, he cooperated in opening hundreds of thousands of acres to public lands to hunting, fishing, and other related activities, as he proudly noted in a Thursday email to FWS employees announcing his departure. Those shifts have attracted controversy through such means as opening options for killing wolves, bears, and caribou in Alaska wide open. Now, hunters are permitted activities ranging from using spotlights to kill mother black bears and cubs hibernating in their dens to using motorboats to kill swimming caribou.
The state is far away from the mainland United States, where Trump supporters might be able to ignore the systematic dismantling of environments, but the planet doesn’t go on forever. Destroyed environments don’t just magically re-appear, and it’s not only in Alaska where protections are being removed.
While Sheehan was in office, the Interior Department also worked on other controversy-generating measures that had less directly to do with the area under his purview. Still, Sheehan defended Zinke in the aforementioned Thursday email to FWS employees, so the two of them are in the same boat.
Zinke drew up a now infamous plan to open up basically all of the available waters off the coast of the United States to oil and gas extraction before seemingly letting at least a portion of the waters off the coast of one state — Florida — off the hook. (Florida is currently led by a Republican governor closely allied to Trump, Rick Scott, which raises the question of whether Zinke simply granted the governor turned U.S. Senate hopeful a favor.)
It’s all a part of the Trump administration’s broad apparent ambition to prioritize corporate — and relevant private — interests over the protection of the environment.
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