Vocal opponent of the Endangered Species Act Susan Combs has been appointed by Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke to oversee federal wildlife policy.
Combs was originally nominated by Zinke to be the assistant secretary for policy, management, and budget last July, but has thus far been delayed in assuming her position by both Democratic and Republican senators.
Unable to immediately elevate her to the position he’d like, Zinke has given her “an active capacity” within the department’s policies and activities while they await senate confirmation.
The move comes as Zinke puts forward a series of proposals that would effectively gut the Endangered Species Act, removing the provisions that require efforts to save all endangered species regardless of the economic impact of their extinction.
In her history as Texas comptroller, Combs worked tirelessly to remove multiple species from the list in order to assist petrochemical companies and the military.
The Center for Biological Diversity had this to say about Combs’ nomination:
“Putting Combs in charge of the Fish and Wildlife Service is like appointing an arsonist as the town fire marshal. 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.” – Stephanie Kurose, Endangered Species Specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity
For reasons that are beyond my comprehension, Combs is arguably best-known for her comment that compared endangered species listings to “incoming Scud missiles.”
Like most appointments made by the president (Betsy DeVos, Scott Pruitt, Gina Haspel, and Rick Perry to name a few), this individual has a history of supporting and enacting policy that is in direct opposition to the mission statement of both the department and the position to which she has been nominated.
As shameful as the appointment is for the U.S. from all perspectives, the real tragedy is that her rise to power comes at exactly the most critical point in time for the fight against climate change.
At a time when we need to be doing absolutely everything we can to reduce our carbon footprint as a species and lifting up and protecting the species we’ve driven to extinction, our administration is putting climate change deniers, big oil executives, and opponents of endangered species protections in charge of maintaining our environment.