United States

United States

Zinke quits Interior amid ethics probes

US Secretary for the Interior, Ryan Zinke, will resign from the role at the end of December following a series of ethical scandals.

Montana Republican Congressman Ryan Zinke was named Interior Secretary following Trump's election (pic: Gage Skidmore)
Montana Republican Congressman Ryan Zinke was named Interior Secretary following Trump's election (pic: Gage Skidmore)

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Despite being part of the Trump administration, Zinke had been surprisingly bullish on US offshore wind development.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy management (BOEM), which oversees commercial wind energy leasing offshore, sits within the Interior Department.

He has, however, also been responsible for driving Trump’s agenda by degrading environmental policies in the US including the advancement of oil and gas drilling in protected areas and wildlife protection.

Zinke is facing federal probes into his travel, political activity and potential conflicts of interest.

According to the New York Times, his likely successor will be the department’s deputy secretary, David Bernhardt, a former lawyer who represented oil clients such as Halliburton and Independent Petroleum Association of America.

"Bernhardt has been running the policy show ever since he’s been there as deputy secretary," Kathleen Sgamma, the president of the oil and gas lobbying group Western Energy Alliance, told the New York Times.

As such, Bernhardt may also be as keen to boost offshore wind development, which is starting to take off in the US, but his views on renewable energy are not yet clear.

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