Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke joined Breitbart News Sunday on SiriusXM where he downplayed a report that President Donald Trump has turned on him after his controversial decision to remove Florida from consideration for his agency’s offshore oil and gas leasing program.
That report, from Axios, claimed Trump is “angry” about the move and described it as a “mistake.” A former Interior Department official is quoted calling Zinke’s decision “clumsy” and an “unforced error.”
Zinke countered the unnamed source’s characterization of the incident, describing his relationship with President Trump as “great,” telling Breitbart News Deputy Political Editor Amanda House, “He’s the best boss that I’ve ever worked for. … He’s given me a lot of latitude, and his guidance is to win — pretty good guidance.”
“The president and I talk all the time. We are absolutely in sync,” Zinke explained, largely comporting with Axios’s sources’ description of a working relationship between the two men with “a lot of goodwill.”
As for going “rogue,” as described by one Axios source, Zinke defended his move, which will exempt Florida and the Eastern Gulf from the coming round of new drilling leases, on its own merits. “Florida is different in the currents – I’m a geologist – it’s different in geology,” he told House.
Zinke went on to explain:
Florida has a moratorium, by federal law, that prevents drilling until 2022. Every member of the Florida delegation wrote me personally. The governor, who is a friend, asked for an immediate meeting, and the executive order that the president signed, did not include the Eastern Gulf for review.
It was the right move to remove Florida’s coastline from consideration.
Zinke was still upbeat about the new offshore drilling initiatives’ ability to unleash America’s energy production potential. He claimed that, under the Obama administration, around 94 percent of offshore drilling was shut down.
Much of Axios’s rationale for characterizing Zinke’s decision as angering the president comes from its supposed likelihood to incur legal challenges from environmental groups claiming the exclusion of Florida and not other sections of America’s offshore oilfields make the whole drilling initiative invalid. “I get sued six times a day,” Zinke joked.
The Interior Secretary went on to emphasize the continued strength of his relationship with President Trump. “He doesn’t micromanage, he just expects results and he holds me accountable,” he told House. “When he feels like I’m off the mark – believe me – he calls and he’s not shy. His mind works at a million miles an hour and I have to justify what I’m doing.”
“He’s the best boss I’ve ever worked for,” Zinke reiterated, adding, “and I’ve had some unbelievable leaders in the military.”
Breitbart News Sunday airs Sunday on SiriusXM’s Patriot channel 125 from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Eastern (4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Pacific).