by Ryan Collins
In an early morning Tweet on Dec. 15, the Commander in Chief announced, “Secretary of the Interior @RyanZinke will be leaving the Administration at the end of the year after having served for a period of almost two years. Ryan has accomplished much during his tenure and I want to thank him for his service to our Nation...”
In a resignation letter obtained by the Associated Press from Zinke’s aide, the official date given for his departure amid accusations of scandal is Jan. 2, 2019.
Two familiar names have been placed on the short list of possible replacements for Zinke. According to Bloomberg, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes and Congressman Rob Bishop are in the running for the coveted Secretary of the Department of the Interior position.
Many San Juan County residents will forever remember Sean Reyes for the charges filed on departing 2018 Utah Lawman of the Year Sheriff Rick Eldredge that were eventually dropped in Nov. 2017.
Bishop, who stood behind the President as he signed the reduction of the Bears Ears Monument in Dec. 2017, has been a strong proponent of Zinke and the Department of the Interior goal to increase natural resource production on federal lands.
Rob Bishop has served in the United States Congress as a representative for the Utah First Congressional District since 2003, winning reelection again in 2018 for the ninth term in his congressional career.
Bishop has served as the Chairman of the House Committee for Natural Resources, but with an incoming Democratic House majority, Bishop has now lost his role as the chair of the committee and much of his authority on the House Rules Committee.
With the two possible Utah replacements being named, it is just a matter of time until we get President Trump’s decision on Zinke’s successor.
Zinke visited San Juan County in May of 2017, prior to the reduction of the Bears Ears monument.
Before the Zinke visit, Obama administration Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewel visited the area in July of 2016, before the designation of Bears Ears as a national monument in December of that year.
With the prospect of a new Democratic house and the changing of the guard at the the Secretary of the Interior position, there is a distinct possibility of impending change in San Juan County as it directly relates to the Zinke exit.
To what degree remains to be seen, but with two familiar names in the running for the coveted position, there is the chance for Utahns to have one of their own replacing Zinke.
For San Juan County residents, that prospect might be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on who you ask.