In 2013, when the federal government shut down over an impasse between President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans over the Affordable Care Act, images of campers canceling trips to closed national parks and veterans storming barricaded war memorials in wheelchairs filled newspapers and television screens, stoking anger among both Democrats and Republicans as each side sought to blame the other.
Five years and one government shutdown later, the Trump administration has a different plan -- to make the government shutdown as low-profile and painless as possible for the general public. Leading that public relations charge is the overseer of the national park system, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
During the government shutdowns in 1993 and 2013, the closure of the iconic sites managed by the National Park Service, a division of the Interior Department, became a flash point for public anger and partisan bickering.
Interior moved on Friday before the shutdown to keep hundreds of parks and monuments accessible, even if unstaffed. At Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California, puzzled visitors found themselves in a park open but void of rangers, with visitor centers locked, The Washington Post reported Saturday. At the nation's oldest national park, Yellowstone, park-goers were greeted with signs explaining that visitors could enter the park at their own risk.
After the Statue of Liberty closed on Saturday, the department and the state of New York struck a deal to reopen the statue and nearby Ellis Island, Zinke and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced on Sunday. Likewise, Arizona's Republican governor, Doug Ducey, stepped in to ensure the Grand Canyon National Park remained open.
Zinke acknowledged the confusion on Twitter. “Not all national parks are fully open,” he wrote, “but we’re working hard to make as much accessible as is safely possible.”
The interior secretary made himself the public face of the administration during shutdown on Sunday, while still attempting to pin blame on Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) by calling the closure of many parts of federal government the "#schumershutdown.” (On Twitter, Democrats in turn called it the "#trumpshutdown.")
One day after thousands of Women's March protesters demonstrated along the National Mall where bathrooms were closed, Zinke was greeting visitors to the National World War II Memorial, free of barricades, and tweeting about donated portable toilets being brought in. The Smithsonian, using the prior year's funds, kept its museums on the mall open through Monday as well.
Zinke also greeted, and tweeted, photos of him with members of the public out on the Mall:
Happy 71st birthday to Nancy and her family from Delaware! Happy you were able visit our parks. pic.twitter.com/uAA6FSbXlJ— Secretary Ryan Zinke (@SecretaryZinke) January 21, 2018
Today we are at the Lincoln, WW2 and Washington giving out maps greeting visitors pic.twitter.com/3hqTE4FDlI— Secretary Ryan Zinke (@SecretaryZinke) January 21, 2018
Zinke's day out paid off with upbeat coverage on the conservative news website the Daily Caller. Zinke was also the subject of a short segment on Fox & Friends, a news program President Trump is known to watch religiously.
Beside soothing a public angry over service disruptions at parks and monuments, the interior secretary may be wise to the fact that he is also serving another audience who is concerned about whether they'll be blamed for the shutdown: his boss, Trump.
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— EPA open for business: The agency’s operations will continue this week whether or not the government reopens, EPA chief Scott Pruitt told employees Friday. The reason? A senior administration official told The Post's Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis the agency can use carry-forward funding, or money unspent from one fiscal period to the next.
Of course, that money can't last forever. “Should the shutdown occur and remain in place through January 26, 2018, we will provide further updates on the agency’s operating status,” Pruitt wrote. In addition to new grants and contracts being put on hold, all travel by EPA employees must be approved by Pruitt's office.
— Lights on at the Energy Department, too: Employees there are expected to show up to work too, according to a memo obtained by Federal Radio News. “All DoE federal employees are expected to report to work on your next scheduled work day and subsequent work days unless you have previously approved leave or are given formal notice by your management not to report to work,” the Office of Management and Budget stated.
— Shutdown or no shutdown, several Trump Cabinet officials will make their way to the World Economic Forum in Davos, which starts Tuesday, including Energy Secretary Rick Perry.
According to The Finance 202's Tory Newmyer, who's on the ground in snowy Switzerland, they include Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin leading the bunch, with appearances from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer — along with senior adviser Jared Kushner, Thomas Bossert, a top counterterrorism and homeland security adviser, USAID Administrator Mark Green, and FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.
Tory will be covering the forum all week. Sign up for The Finance 202 here.
— Today, it's official: Zinke will sign an agreement Monday to let the small Alaskan village of King Cove construct a road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, The Post's Juliet Eilperin reports. The move is a long-sought victory for Alaska's congressional delegation, in particular Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), who is seeking to provide medical evacuations and other services to the remote village outpost. The refuge is critical habitat for bears, caribou and migratory bids. The Post first reported that Zinke was exploring a land exchange in October.
— Zinke's Sunshine State burn continues: Meanwhile, Zinke's quick exemption of Florida from the Trump administration's offshore oil leasing plan continues to stir controversy. Walter Cruickshank, acting director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, told a House panel Friday Zinke's tweet announcing the decision to exempt Florida from new drilling rules "is not a formal action."
Trump isn't happy with the hasty decision from Zinke, who did not give the White House forewarning about it, Axios reported Sunday. And other coastal governors are anxiously waiting for a meeting with the Trump administration about the fate of their own states, reports The Post's Darryl Fears. That Jan. 9 meeting between Zinke and Gov. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) "has triggered feelings of betrayal, charges of favoritism and accusations of a political power move," Fears writes.
— Those deadly California mudslides? Expect worse in the future: "Looking to the future," Lee MacDonald writes in The Post, "it is clear that the problem is only going to get worse." Why? Climate change is increasing the length and severity of forest-fire seasons that leave hillsides denuded and vulnerable to debris flows afterward.
— Weather Channel founder dies at 83: John Coleman, the “Good Morning America” forecasting icon who co-founded the 24/7 weather channel, died Saturday. Though considered a pioneer in weather casting, in his later years, The Post's Jason Samenow reports, the 83-year-old became known for championing skepticism about the human role in climate change.
— Monarch butterfly migration was off this year and researchers are worried: The migrating insects were spotted in New Jersey in November, when at the time they should have been crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. "This delayed migration is not normal," writes Joe Trezza for The Post, adding that "seeing butterflies so far north so late in the year suggested that few of these latecomers would reach their Mexican wintering grounds." Higher-than-normal temperatures, probably a sign of climate change, pushed the monarchs' migration back.
- The American Petroleum Institute holds its Exploration and Production Winter Standards Meeting.
- The National Council for Science and the Environment’s conference on sustainable infrastructure begins.
- The National Biodiesel Conference & Expo begins.
- The Bipartisan Policy Center holds an event on infrastructure ideas and innovation.
- The Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment holds its 6th annual Lunch & Learn event to decide what topics to cover in 2018 on Tuesday.
- The Center for Strategic and International Studies holds an event on Canada’s energy future on Tuesday.
- Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment holds a forum on California's climate action on Tuesday.
- The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has a hearing scheduled on electric power system performance on Tuesday.
- The Senate Commerce Committee holds a field hearing on “Driving Automotive Innovation and Federal Policies” on Wednesday.
- ACORE and Bloomberg New Energy Finance holds a webinar on renewable energy financing on Wednesday.
- Politico holds an event on “Driverless Cars: Who’s Making Sure They’re Safe” on Thursday.
- Wilson Center holds a discussion on “A World Without NAFTA?” on Thursday.
- The American Wind Energy Association holds its Southeast Wind Conference in Atlanta, Ga. on Thursday.
- Brookings Institution holds a live webcast with OIRA administrator Neomi Rao on “What’s next for Trump’s regulatory agenda” on Friday.
- The Society of Environmental Journalists, George Mason University and the Wilson Center host an event to launch the annual report on: “The Journalists' Guide to Energy and Environment" on Friday.
- EPA chief Scott Pruitt will testify before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Jan. 31
- FERC Commissioner Neil Chatterjee is scheduled to speak at the 31st annual Power and Gas M&A Symposium on Feb. 1.
Two skiers were rescued from a mountain near Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands after surviving the night in blizzard conditions:
Watch an ash cloud billow from the Philippines' Mayon volcano on the verge of eruption:
An offshore storm in the Pacific caused flooding and damage to coastal towns across Washington and Oregon late last week:
Watch the Daily Show with Trevor Noah on Trump's first year as president: