Wildlife Hater Put in Charge of U.S. En­dan­gered Species

Trillions - - Contents -

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has qui­etly named Su­san Combs — an out­spo­ken foe of en­dan­gered species and a cli­mate change de­nier — as act­ing as­sis­tant sec­re­tary for fish, wildlife and parks. She now over­sees the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice and the en­dan­gered species it pro­tects.

“Putting Combs in charge of the Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice is like ap­point­ing an ar­son­ist as the town fire mar­shal,” said Stephanie Kurose, en­dan­gered species spe­cial­ist at the Cen­ter for Bi­o­log­i­cal Di­ver­sity. “Combs will only work to strip away crit­i­cal pro­tec­tions for our most vul­ner­a­ble an­i­mals, not protect them. As long as her in­dus­try pals make a profit, she won’t think twice about let­ting a species go ex­tinct.”

As a for­mer Texas state comptroller, Combs wrested con­trol of the state's en­dan­gered species pro­gram from the De­part­ment of Parks and Wildlife to her of­fice, which man­aged state fis­cal and tax mat­ters, not bi­ol­ogy. She used her author­ity to op­pose any En­dan­gered Species Act pro­tec­tions, of­ten team­ing with the oil and gas in­dus­try.

Combs was nom­i­nated in 2017 to be the U.S. De­part­ment of the In­te­rior’s as­sis­tant sec­re­tary for pol­icy, man­age­ment and bud­get, where she would have con­trolled the purse strings over the en­tire de­part­ment, in­clud­ing the Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice.

Her nom­i­na­tion was ap­proved on a party line vote in the Se­nate En­ergy and Nat­u­ral Re­sources Com­mit­tee. How­ever, the full Se­nate did not take up her nom­i­na­tion and sent it back to the White House at the end of 2017. In 2018, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion re-nom­i­nated Combs to the same po­si­tion. More than 70 con­ser­va­tion or­ga­ni­za­tions sent a let­ter to the hope­lessly cor­rupt Se­nate op­pos­ing her nom­i­na­tion.

Combs is the third po­lit­i­cal ap­pointee named as “act­ing” as­sis­tant sec­re­tary for fish, wildlife and parks since Trump took of­fice. Sec­re­tary of the In­te­rior Ryan Zinke ap­pointed Aure­lia Skip­with, a for­mer Mon­santo em­ployee, to the role in April 2017. Then in Jan­uary, Zinke ap­pointed Ja­son Larrabee, the for­mer chief of staff for Rep. Jeff Den­ham (R-calif.), to the po­si­tion.

“Trump’s dere­lic­tion of duty to even of­fer names for key of­fi­cials for the De­part­ment of the In­te­rior is dam­ag­ing our na­tion’s nat­u­ral her­itage,” said Kurose. “It has al­lowed a pa­rade of un­qual­i­fied po­lit­i­cal cronies to oc­cupy the high­est lev­els of the In­te­rior De­part­ment and cause even more harm be­hind closed doors.”

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