Trump campaign suggests appointing oil executive to protect national parks and public lands

The Lucas Oil president isn’t the only oil exec rumored to be in the running for a cabinet post.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. CREDIT: AP IMAGES
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. CREDIT: AP IMAGES

Sources close to Donald Trump told Politico this week that the Republican presidential candidate is considering oil executive and vocal animal rights opponent, Forrest Lucas, to serve as Secretary of the Interior if he is elected to the White House. The Department of the Interior (DOI) oversees 500 million acres of public lands, including America’s 413 national parks, the protection of endangered species, and federal oil, gas, and coal reserves.

Lucas is best known as the co-founder and president of Lucas Oil, a major manufacturer and distributor of automotive lubricants and oils, but he is also active in the anti-animal rights movement. In 2014, Lucas founded Protect the Harvest, a nonprofit group that, according to its website, “exists to defend our way of life, preserve our food freedom, and stand up for your right to farm, fish, hunt, eat meat, and own animals.” The group also actively organizes opposition to the Humane Society of the United States, which it calls a “radical” animal rights group.

Critics contend that an Interior Department run by Lucas would be a windfall for the oil and gas industry.

“At this rate, Donald Trump’s cabinet meetings will be so oil-soaked that they’ll need fire retardant carpeting installed in the White House out of fear of setting the place on fire,” Sierra Club political director Khalid Pitts said in a statement. “Putting an oil executive in charge of our public lands and precious coasts in places like North Carolina, Virginia, and Florida is a virtual guarantee that Trump’s promise to throw open season on drilling in our special places will come true if he’s elected.”

Several of the progressive energy initiatives implemented under Obama’s DOI could be at risk of being overturned in a Trump administration.

Under the Obama administration, DOI has made significant strides in increasing transparency and ensuring a fair return to taxpayers from fossil fuel leasing on public lands; setting aside lands for conservation; forging historic, collaborative species-conservation strategies; and fighting climate change.

Several of the progressive energy initiatives implemented under Obama’s DOI could be at risk of being overturned in a Trump administration. A Trump administration, for example, could potentially overturn the Interior Department’s current pause and review of the federal coal leasing program, which has not been updated in more than 30 years. National parks and other public lands may also be at risk, with a provision in the GOP platform calling for the indiscriminate and immediate disposal of national public lands, which opponents argue would be developed or sold off to the highest bidder.

Trump’s potential cabinet has also been rumored to include oil and gas executive Harold Hamm, who made billions in the Bakken shale play, and his Agricultural Advisory Committee was termed a “royal flush of animal protection haters” by the Humane Society.

According to Politico, Lucas and his wife have donated $50,000 to Trump Vice Presidential pick Mike Pence’s gubernatorial campaigns. Pence has been a supporter of traditional fossil fuel extraction and a vocal opponent of federal environmental regulations.