As if endangered species didn’t have enough to worry about, they’re about to have a vocal opponent of animals and conservation overseeing their protection in the White House. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has named Susan Combs to serve as the acting assistant secretary of fish, wildlife and parks.
To fully understand why Combs is such a terrible pick, take a look at her history as a comptroller in Texas. In that role, she routinely went up against the US Fish and Wildlife Service when they tried to enforce portions of the Endangered Species Act in her state. She also successfully fought to keep the golden-cheeked warbler and the dune sagebrush lizard from being included on the endangered list.
Combs made it her business to protect the oil industry and other corporations from the supposed drag of having to make adjustments to preserve vulnerable species. She opposed pretty much every creature considered for endangered designation on economic grounds.
Perhaps most infamously, Combs once labeled animals included on the official endangered list as “incoming Scud missiles.” How her mind managed to decide that animals in need of conservation efforts are equivalent to deadly weapons is completely perplexing.
You’re kidding yourself if you think this nomination is some kind of accident. It’s both deliberate and telling for Zinke to put a known opponent of the Endangered Species Act in charge of wildlife policy.
Granted, Combs cannot dismantle the Endangered Species Act — that kind of thing would require legislation by Congress. However, from this secretary position, should we have the discretion to enforce the rules, thereby allowing companies to flout the rules without repercussions. Furthermore, the policies she would promote are almost certainly not going to benefit the wildlife she’s charged with protecting.
Interestingly, this role is not the first for which the Trump administration has nominated Combs. Last summer, she was named the assistant secretary for policy, management and budget for the Interior Department, but the Senate has yet to confirm her for a number of reasons, not the least of which was vehement opposition from conservation organizations.
Evidently, when a women hates endangered species that much, you just have to make sure she gets a job somewhere in your administration!
The Interior Department says it is still hoping to have her fill the original role, but it wants her to take on this other job in the meantime. Although this second position also requires Senate confirmation, due to technical rules, she can serve it in an acting capacity until Senate puts it in a vote, meaning to prevent her from wreaking havoc in this job she’s unsuited for, the Senate will have to not just vote no, but do so quickly.
Let’s make sure that happens. The Senate obviously has some reservations about Combs in the first place, so let’s encourage them to reject her nomination via this Care2 petition. Animals in this country deserve better than to have a longstanding opponent of the Endangered Species Act put in control of their welfare.