Searching for smart, safe news you can TRUST?

Support safe, smart, REAL journalism. Sign up for our Axios AM & PM newsletters and get smarter, faster.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Searching for smart, safe news you can TRUST?

Support safe, smart, REAL journalism. Sign up for our Axios AM & PM newsletters and get smarter, faster.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Minneapolis-St. Paul

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa-St. Petersburg news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa-St. Petersburg

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Secretary Ryan Zinke. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Interior Department is likely to see less ethical controversy and smoother processes but little, if any, substantive policy shifts after Secretary Ryan Zinke steps down from his role.

Why it matters: Zinke’s various scandals, including one reportedly referred to the Justice Department, have begun to dominate headlines akin to what occurred with Scott Pruitt, the scandal-ridden former Environmental Protection Agency administrator. Upon Zinke's departure — just like when Pruitt leftyou will have an agency scarred by a tumultuous run but nonetheless on the same policy track.

What’s next: Trump said he would announce a new interior secretary next week. In the meantime and until any nominee can get confirmed by the Senate, David Bernhardt, deputy secretary at the department since summer 2017, will likely be the acting secretary. Bernhardt is a long-time Washington lobbyist and government official. He worked in the Interior Department under President George W. Bush and has since lobbied on behalf of several companies and organizations with business at Interior now.

  • “Zinke is far less experienced in terms of how Washington works, how Interior works,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “David takes Zinke’s impulses and then figures out to make policy out of them.”

Between the lines: Axios' Ben Geman explains that Zinke is an enthusiastic point person for White House efforts to open more areas to energy development, and slash environmental rules and restrictions, notably shrinking two national monument areas in Utah.

  • However, some of the efforts, including the monument revisions, remain the subject of court battles, while other remains incomplete. For instance, Interior is only part way through the years-long process of opening Atlantic Coast and Alaskan offshore areas to oil-and-gas leasing.
  • And while regulators can expand access and ease rules, it’s ultimately market-driven forces that will guide industry decisions, and the level of interest in exploring for oil in frontier areas is unclear amid ample opportunities elsewhere.

Be smart: Zinke is to Bernhardt what Scott Pruitt was to Andrew Wheeler, current EPA Acting Administrator. The ousted politicians were flashier but ultimately less effective than their predecessors experienced and familiar with the Washington swamp.

  • “As acting Secretary of the Interior, I would look for Bernhardt to further dismantle restrictions around water and ease regulations involving drilling on federal lands,” said Dan Eberhart, CEO of oil services company Canary LLC. “I would also expect Bernhardt to value media coverage less. He’s more of a workhorse and less of a show horse.”

The other side: Environmentalists far less pleased with Interior’s direction nonetheless echoed the sentiment that things are unlikely to change. “The deputy secretary has been very involved in setting direction all along,” said Sarah Greenberger, a senior vice president at the Audubon Society and former Interior official under Obama.

The big picture: The Republican Party is publicly divided on a lot of issues, ranging from trade to immigration, but on energy and environmental policies, it’s largely in lockstep. That’s why, despite scandal-driven turnover in Trump’s top officials in these areas, actual policy hasn’t changed much. Expect the same at the Interior Department.

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

How Biden might tackle the Iran deal

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Four more years of President Trump would almost certainly kill the Iran nuclear deal — but the election of Joe Biden wouldn’t necessarily save it.

The big picture: Rescuing the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is near the top of Biden's foreign policy priority list. He says he'd re-enter the deal once Iran returns to compliance, and use it as the basis on which to negotiate a broader and longer-lasting deal with Iran.

Kamala Harris, the new left's insider

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images     

Progressive leaders see Sen. Kamala Harris, if she's elected vice president, as their conduit to a post-Biden Democratic Party where the power will be in younger, more diverse and more liberal hands.

  • Why it matters: The party's rising left sees Harris as the best hope for penetrating Joe Biden's older, largely white inner circle.

If Biden wins, Harris will become the first woman, first Black American and first Indian American to serve as a U.S. vice president — and would instantly be seen as the first in line for the presidency should Biden decide against seeking a second term.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day — U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record.
  2. Politics: States beg for Warp Speed billions.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases.
  4. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!