Meet the Oil and Gas Chum Now In Charge of Our Nation's Wildlife

Last month, to little fanfare, Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke placed Susan Combs, a vociferous critic of the Endangered Species Act, in charge of its enforcement.


Combs is a former Texas politician and longtime friend of the oil and gas industry. Because Zinke couldn’t push her nomination for assistant secretary for policy, management and budget through the Senate, he appointed Combs as acting assistant secretary for fish, parks, and wildlife at the Interior Department.

That means she’s in charge of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Park Service, directing policy and programs related to land and natural resource conservation, overseeing improvement of fish and wildlife habitats, enforcing the Endangered Species Act, and chairing the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission.

It’s a bit of dream job for Combs, who spent seven years as Texas state comptroller attempting to thwart and dismantle the wildlife protections she’s now charged with upholding.

Not everyone is up in arms about this. Some, like Gary Mowad, former Deputy Chief for the FWS Office of Law Enforcement, think the ESA needs to be reigned in. He told Earther if Combs can get that job done without taking pushing things too far in favor of industry, he’ll be satisfied.

Others say it’s playing with fire.

As former associate director of FWS Bob Dreher put it to Earther, “It’s a lot like putting Scott Pruitt in charge of the EPA.” And we all know how that’s going.


Maddie Stone is a freelancer based in Philadelphia.


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If you’re a breezy casual observer of environmental regulatory affairs AND watched the video and/or read Maggie’s words AND still think there’s possibly been governmental overreach over the past 50 or so years regarding environmental protection AND think that maybe we should be having a “common sense third way adult conversations instead of arguing” OR “achieve common ground with O&G and industrial ag” OR think environmental protection is best suited for the private sector AND non profits funded by big oil and ag - then maybe you should just admit you couldn’t give a shit about what lies outside your sphere of comfort and go back to watching unboxing videos of the latest smartphone.

Sorry, that was a bit non breezy for the target audience and I apoligize.

Trump’s admin appointments and subsequent hires on issues relating to pretty much every government agency is out to fuck over the agency they’re running. This is a fact. This is what the republicans have been wanting to do for at least since the 1960s.

Again sorry. I’ll end this comment with a lovely nature picture of the northern Boreal forest working in common ground with tar sands mining: