Zinke marks last day at Interior

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke formally left his position Wednesday, tweeting that it has been a “high honor” to serve President Trump and the American people.

Zinke announced his plan to resign last month amid numerous investigations into whether he violated ethics standards.

Zinke, whose 22-month tenure was marked by rollbacks of environmental policies and a push to boost fossil fuel production, had planned Wednesday as his departure date from the outset.

Zinke’s letter came the day before Democrats take the majority in the House, which would have given the party and incoming Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) the power to subpoena him and compel him to testify in hearings.

“We’ve restored public lands ‘for the benefit & enjoyment of the people,’ improved public access & shall never be held hostage again for our energy needs,” Zinke said in the statement handwritten in red marker on his official letterhead, scanned and posted at noon on Twitter.

The quote is from the 1872 law that created Yellowstone National Park as the nation’s first national park. It is also inscribed in the Roosevelt Arch, a monument at an entrance to Yellowstone that honors President Theodore Roosevelt, to whom Zinke frequently compared himself for his conservation legacy.

“God bless America & those who defend her,” Zinke wrote. Read more on his exit here.

Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, a former department solicitor and lobbyist for industries like energy and water, appears to have taken over as acting secretary after Zinke’s departure.

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