Trump to nominate former Monsanto exec to top Interior position

Trump to nominate former Monsanto exec to top Interior position
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpREAD: Transcript of James Comey's interview with House Republicans Klobuchar on 2020: ‘I do think you want voices from the Midwest’ Israel boycott fight roils Democrats in year-end spending debate MORE plans to nominate a former Monsanto executive to a top position in the Department of the Interior, the White House announced Monday.

Trump will nominate Aurelia Skipwith to be the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). She is currently the deputy assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks, a position she was appointed to last year. In that role, she is responsible for the protection of lands and water in national parks and the wildlife refuge system.

Skipwith is a biologist and lawyer who spent more than six years at agriculture giant Monsanto. She joined the Department of Agriculture in 2013.

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As head of FWS, Skipwith would be responsible for areas like the Trump administration’s policies for importing trophies from elephant hunts, the nation’s more than 560 refuges and the administration’s efforts to make Endangered Species Act enforcement better for industry. The FWS said last week that it plans to finalize those changes in November.

Skipwith said in a statement that she’s honored to be picked.

“During the past 18 months as deputy assistant secretary, I have had the distinction to work with dedicated people of the service to ensure the implementation of this administration’s and Secretary Zinke’s policies to protect our species, increase public access, and ensure science is at forefront of our decisions,” she said in a statement. “If confirmed, I look forward to the opportunity to lead the service in achieving a conservation legacy second only to President Teddy Roosevelt.”

Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeUndoing the damage Pruitt and Zinke did to our environment The Hill's 12:30 Report — Flynn awaits sentencing | White House signals it wants to avoid shutdown The Hill's Morning Report — What a shutdown would mean for the government MORE said Skipwith is a “passionate conservationist,” and would be an “incredible” FWS director.

“She has helped lead some of my top priorities for getting more people to enjoy our public lands, like expanding access for hunting and fishing, recognizing National Urban Refuge Day, and designating sites on the African American Civil Rights Network,” he said.

Conservationists, however, criticized her selection.

The Center for Biological Diversity said Skipwith would be the “most unqualified” FWS director in the agency’s history.

“Aurelia Skipwith has been working in the Trump administration all along to end protections for billions of migratory birds, gut endangered species safeguards and eviscerate national monuments,” Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the conservation group, said in a statement. “Skipwith will always put the interests of her old boss Monsanto and other polluters ahead of America’s wildlife and help the most anti-environmental administration in history do even more damage.”

Updated on Tuesday at 1:26 p.m.