Adding to the growing list of questionable appointments, the Trump administration has nominated two more former Bush officials and ex-lobbyists to critical posts at the Department of the Interior (DOI).
“It appears the Trump administration and Secretary Ryan Zinke are continuing to fill the swamp with special interests and campaign cronies who have a clear anti-public lands agenda,” said Chris Saeger, Executive Director of the Western Values Project. “The Department of the Interior under Secretary Zinke is shaping up to be one of the most lobbyist-infested workplaces in Washington, D.C., and that’s saying a lot.“
Doug Domenech, who served at DOI in various posts under President George W. Bush and spent time as a registered lobbyist, has been nominated for Assistant Secretary of the Interior, Insular Affairs. Mr. Domenech was the director of the Fueling Freedom Project, whose stated mission is to “explain the forgotten moral case for fossil fuels.” The Fueling Freedom Project is an initiative of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a right-wing think-tank bankrolled by oil interests including the Koch brothers. He recently accused the Bureau of Land Management of “an outright assault on constitutional principles” when the department sought to oversee federal land that an Oklahoma judge ruled belonged to the public thirty years ago. Mr. Domenech has lobbied the federal government on behalf of a New Jersey-based energy company that operates natural gas, coal, and oil-fired electric plants.
Brenda Burman, also an ex-Bush official, has been nominated to be the Commissioner of Reclamation. Ms. Burman, a former lobbyist in Arizona, already made it clear that she is going to shift the focus of the Bureau of Reclamation towards development over conservation and public lands. She is no stranger to Western water and energy issues, having attended several junkets paid for by industry groups while working for former Arizona Senator Jon Kyl.