Susan Combs, Friend of Big Oil, Wants to Speed Up the Interior Department’s Permit Process
Trump appointee Susan Combs who was paid up to almost $2.2 million by oil companies and who blocked federal protection for a tiny Texas lizard on oil fields, now wants to restructure our nation’s Interior Department to “result in improved permitting.”
Combs, the acting secretary for fish, wildlife and parks, told the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources that she wants to consolidate administration of the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross spent much of his first year in office as a business partner with the Chinese government even as he negotiated U.S.-China trade relations. Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke started a foundation that helped a developer backed by the chairman of Halliburton, the oil -services firm that could benefit from Interior decisions.
Federal disclosure documents show that from 2016 to 2017 Combs received:
- Up to $50,000 in rent or royalties from Chesapeake Operating LLC for an oil and gas lease in La Salle County in Texas.
- Up to $15,000 in rent or royalties from Carrizo Oil & Gas for an oil and gas lease in McMullen County in Texas.
- Up to $1 million in rent or royalties from Murphy Oil Corp. for an oil and gas lease in Karnes County in Texas.
- Up to $1 million in rent or royalties from ConocoPhillips for an oil and gas lease in Karnes County.
- Up to $100,000 in rent or royalties from Marathon Oil for an oil and gas lease in Karnes County.
- Up to $2,500 in rent or royalties from Phillips 66 for an oil and gas lease in Karnes County.
Combs, then the Texas comptroller, worked with the oil industry to set up a voluntary program in 2012 to protect the dunes sagebrush lizard. Under Combs, Texas kept agreements with landowners to protect lizard habitat confidential. Even the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service doesn’t know where or how much land is being protected.
Environmentalists say those efforts haven’t been enough and have asked the Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the lizards under the Endangered Species Act.
Featured image: The endangered dunes sagebrush lizard