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‘Drained’ federal agencies are swampier than ever

Throughout his campaign for president, Donald J. Trump promised time and again that he would drain the “swamp.”  The swamp Trump referenced was the imagined one in Washington, D.C., where all the old freeloaders and deadbeats lived off the public purse but produced nothing but large guts and bad ideas.

Trump said he’d do something about the malingers by appointing really good people to his administration’s cabinet posts and other senior positions.  So, they were one by one given the top jobs in the White House but soon enough were recognized as not only among the poor examples they replaced from previous administrations but were found to be even worse than their predecessors from as far back as any living Americans could remember.

Two of the worst violators and among those early-on to be pointed to the nearest exit were Health and Human Service Secretary Tom Price and Environmental Protection Agency Chief Scott Pruitt.  Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has remained in his job but will soon follow his former associates.  Zinke, a former Montana congressman, has borne a remarkable resemblance to Pruitt in his approach to established policy standards: fit for them to break.

Zinke has become notorious in a mere two years at accumulating about a dozen inquiries into his manipulation of public resources for private use.  By dismantling rules that have protected the nation’s wilderness and wildlife, he had led the way for others who seek to rape by his guidance and encouragement all that environmentalists and naturalists have worked for the past 100 years to establish and protect.

According to the Center for Western Priorities, there have been many investigations by the Interior Department’s inspector general and other environmental groups.  Several of Zinke’s GOP predecessors, who sought to privatize through personal business interests the country’s many wildlife refuges, parks, monuments, and public lands, never came anywhere near the list of Zinke’s achieved turnovers.

Recently, the inspector general opened another investigation into Zinke’s role in a Montana land deal involving the chairman of Halliburton.  The oil services company also stands to benefit from such policies as what have been Zinke’s apparent disregard for state interests in preservation through his efforts to expand offshore drilling, including Oregon’s border to the Pacific Ocean.

He has dismissed the recreational value of protected lands and done was he could to exploit them for his wealthy pals.  Examples include logging in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument on the California-Oregon border.  Then, too, Zinke has worked to terminate endangered species protections.

Zinke has labored to turn over public lands and formerly protected areas to use by mining, golf course, hunting, oil and gas exploration interests and any other way persons of wealth and corporations can take down trees, fill the lakes and streams by leveling the surrounding hills and mountains, and kill the wildlife.  Wish it were possible for this writer to report faith in the replacements for Price, Pruitt and Zinke bringing security to the many features of America we appreciate.  Likely unsettling to some Americans, “rescues” may have a chance only with new leadership at the top and a real draining of the “swamp.”

(Gene H. McIntyre shares his
opinion frequently in the Keizertimes)