THE LIGHTBULB

Three months after leaving the top post of the department that oversees mining on public lands, Ryan Zinke is taking a position at a gold mining firm.

U.S. Gold announced Tuesday that it has appointed the former interior secretary to its board of directors. 

The path from a president's Cabinet to the corporate boardroom is a common one. President Barack Obama's two interior secretaries, Sally Jewell and Ken Salazar, serve on the board of directors for, respectively, the insurance company Symetra and the big-box retailer Target.

Still, by appointing Zinke, this small Nevada-based gold mining firm is trying to give itself a leg up in dealing with the federal government as it explores for gold and other precious metals out West.

U.S. Gold's chief executive, Edward Karr, acknowledged as much when announcing the appointment, citing in a statement Zinke's “in-depth knowledge of the governmental regulatory and permitting process for mining and exploration companies.”

In tandem with his position on the board of directors, Zinke was retained by U.S. Gold as a government relations consultant, for which the company will pay him $90,000 per year.

But for now, Zinke's work for U.S. Gold is constrained by "revolving door" law. He is prohibited from communicating with his old colleagues to influence policy during a two-year "cooling off" period.

“I don’t lobby,” Zinke told the Associated Press. “I just follow the law, so I don’t talk to anybody on the executive side."

Zinke channeled his old boss's campaign slogan in his own statement: “I am excited to work closely with management and the Board to help make mining great again in America.”

Among mining companies, U.S. Gold is small, with a $20 million valuation and two plays in north-central Nevada and southeast Wyoming. As of January of this year, none of the company’s properties contain proven and probable reserves of gold and other precious metals it is seeking to extract, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

This is the second post-administration job for Zinke, who just two weeks after resigning from office in January became a managing director of the technology and energy investment firm Artillery One.

Zinke left the Interior Department amid numerous investigations into potential conflicts of interest.

POWER PLAYS

— State AGs slam Trump proposal to limit federal authority under Clean Water Act: Attorneys general of 14 states and the District of Columbia are chastising the president over his proposal to roll back the Waters of the United States regulation. They say the move would mean the Environmental Protection Agency would no longer have oversight over 15 percent of streams and more than half the nation’s wetlands. “In comments filed Tuesday before the end of the public comment period, the state attorneys general said that the Trump administration’s proposal in December for a more limited rule violates the Administrative Procedure Act and runs contrary to the Clean Water Act’s objective of restoring the nation’s waterways,” The Post’s Steven Mufson reports. “Given the interconnected nature of national water systems, state attorneys general worry not only about pollution their own states generate but also pollution originating from outside of their jurisdiction, potentially threatening their drinking water.”

— Bernhardt left meetings off his schedule: The Interior Department says recently confirmed Secretary David Bernhardt left some meetings off his public calendar intentionally, citing “internal protocol,” Roll Call reports. The agency also acknowledged Bernhardt has been using a Google document to keep track of his schedule, which his staff then writes over the same document with new details. “Until now, the department had denied that any schedules were being overwritten,” per the report. “Bernhardt told lawmakers earlier this year the only calendar he used was on a document posted to the department’s website. He said he had ‘not personally maintained a calendar for years’ and had ‘no intention of suddenly doing so now.’ ”

— Top Interior watchdog to depart: Mary Kendall, the Interior Department’s deputy inspector general, will retire from her post in May, leaving the watchdog office even as it launches an investigation into Bernhardt, Politico reports. Kendall announced just Monday a new probe into Bernhardt’s possible ethical violations. She also led the office during its investigations into then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, which will continue, spokeswoman Nancy DiPaolo told Politico. Kendall will take a new gig as the deputy inspector general at Amtrak, DiPaolo said.

— A bill to try to stop Colorado's "oil and gas wars": Gov. Jared Polis (D) has signed into law a bill that overhauls how the state's oil and gas business is regulated and gives local authorities more say over what the industry can and can't do. Polis said he wants the new law to help alleviate conflicts that had emerged over increased drilling in populated areas, the Denver Post reports. “Today, with the signing of this bill, it is our hope that the oil and gas wars that have enveloped our state are over and the winner is all of us,” Polis said. Already, opponents of the measure have planned efforts to stop the law, including ballot proposals to repeal it and create an independent commission.

— The latest tensions over disaster spending: Democrats have been looking to take advantage of any tension between Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and his party over disaster funding for Puerto Rico, Politico reports. While Scott vowed on the campaign trail to stand up for Puerto Rico, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) is now criticizing him for not pushing back against Trump, who has urged senators not to send more funding to the hurricane-stricken U.S. territory. The pair exchanged a set of fiery tweets over the weekend and early this week over the disaster aid package, which “serves as a first crucial test for the former Florida governor, who campaigned in 2018 as an advocate for Puerto Rico and someone willing to split with Trump."

— Natural gas groups call for new FERC nominee: The American Gas Association, the American Petroleum Institute and other groups in the natural gas industry are calling on Trump to fill the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission vacancy left by former chairman Kevin McIntyre, who died this year. “The lack of a full Commission can delay the approval of pending projects, such as natural gas infrastructure projects, thereby hindering the advancement of critical infrastructure,” the groups wrote in a joint letter, E&E News reports.

— Collins brings in more from fossil fuel industry than Mainers: Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) received more than five times the donations from members of the Texas fossil fuel industry than she did from residents of her state, the Hill reports. She received about $49,300 in campaign donations from Texas-based fossil fuel donors in the first quarter of 2019, a fraction of the $1.4 million she brought in total. She received $9,200 from 17 donations from residents in Maine. Collins is up for reelection next year.

— 2020 watch: In a newly published interview with New York Magazine, Democratic presidential contender and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) said he wasn’t surprised about reports that Trump wants to tout his environmental record during his reelection campaign. “My belief is there is no whopper too obvious and large for him not to tell, there’s no expectation of truthfulness — ever — from him,” Inslee said. “So no, nothing would shock us, but would that be successful? No.”

THERMOMETER

— Relentless storms across the country: Another set of severe storms and heavy rains could hit the central United States and the East Coast this week, even as residents recover from the serious storms from last weekend. “Each day, storms will be capable of producing tornadoes, damaging winds and, particularly in the Plains, large hail,” The Post’s Ian Livingston reports. “Widespread significant rainfall is also possible, with many areas picking up at least one to three inches. This will exacerbate ongoing flooding in many river basins. When the storm reaches the East Coast on Friday, it will draw a tremendous amount of moisture into the Mid-Atlantic, posing flooding concerns.”

DAYBOOK

Today

  • The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee holds a field hearing on “Oversight Hearing on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Management of the 2019 Missouri River Basin Flooding."

Coming Up

  • The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission holds an open meeting on Thursday.
EXTRA MILEAGE

— “The plight of Yangtze giant soft-shell”: The last known female Yangtze giant soft-shell turtle has died just hours after researchers had tried to artificially inseminate her. Now, the species might die with her, as The Post’s Kayla Epstein writes.