Woman who shrank national monuments heads to oil and gas company to profit from her actions


Woman who shrank national monuments heads to oil and gas company to profit from her actions

Mark Sumner

Downey Magallanes was a staffer for Roy Blunt, the daughter of Peabody Coal executive Fred Palmer, and deputy chief of staff for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. She’s also the woman you can thank for taking millions of acres out of two national monuments in Utah and opening them up for oil, coal, and uranium exploration. 

Cedar Mesa area of Bears Ears National Monument

Now, with less than two years on the job, she’s done her job. And is ready to collect her reward.  She’s moving on from Zinke’s Interior Department to the next best thing—BP. As the Salt Lake Tribune reports Magallanes left her role in the Interior Department last week to take an “incredible opportunity” in the government affairs team at BP.

For those who have worried that Trump was failing to drain the swamp, not to worry—this swamp goes both ways. Stephen Bloch, legal director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, an advocacy group, said in an email: “Her prior work on behalf of oil, gas and coal, her family’s ties to the coal industry, and the fact that she is headed to BP all point in one direction: that she came to Interior with an agenda to promote fossil fuel development over the interest of the American public.”

Magallanes won’t be officially listed as a lobbyist for BP. But the idea that this somehow makes her quick trip through the revolving door better is not just silly, it’s a clear demonstration that the “ethics pledge” Trump supposedly put in place is as worthless as you would expect from any statement that combined the words “Trump” and “ethics.” Magallanes now has contacts in the Senate, in the Interior department, and across the fossil fuel industry. She doesn’t have to “lobby.” She just has to call up a pal for lunch.

The new BP exec was deeply involved in chopping the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments to a small fraction of their former size. That decision leaves many areas of archaeological and paleontological isolated in land subject to development. It also means that, rather than being part of large unified space providing ecological benefits, the two monuments provide much smaller, isolated habitats.