Woman who likens endangered species listings to "scud missiles" now leads (you guessed it!) wildlife policy

Credit: Gage Skidmore

U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has selected Susan Combs, an opponent of the Endangered Species Act and an ally of the oil industry, to oversee federal wildlife policy. In her time as a Texas comptroller, Combs repeatedly fought the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over enforcing endangered wildlife protections—which she considers federal overreach and a burden for business. Combs' previous nomination for assistant secretary for policy, budget, and management received bipartisan pushback and is stalled in the Senate, so Zinke has posted her elsewhere in the meantime. And in typical Trump administration fashion, she now oversees what she hopes to dismantle. Records show that Combs has disagreed with nearly every species listing from Washington, including protections for the golden-cheeked warbler, a songbird that she claimed hindered “military readiness.” The move is unsurprising from Zinke, who is not exactly a friend of biodiversity. Zinke worked closely with lawmakers last year on bills to allow economic factors to sway whether a species deserves protection and to delist the gray wolf.

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