President Donald Trump will donate his first quarter’s salary to the National Parks Service, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer announced during his Monday press briefing.
Spicer began the daily briefing Monday by presenting a $78,333 check to Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke. It was a manifestation of President Trump’s previous pledge to donate his constitutionally mandated salary to federal entities throughout his presidential tenure. Trump’s decision to make his salary donation comes in the wake of heavy criticism and accusations that he did not plan to follow through on his original promise.
“The president has spoken with council and made the decision to donate his first quarter’s salary, in total, to a government entity,” said Spicer, “and he has chosen this quarter to donate it to the National Perks Service.”
Spicer then presented the check for the requisite amount to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Superintendent of Harper’s Ferry Park Tyrone Brandyburg. The pair of them held the check together, smiling and posing for photographs.
Next, Zinke took the podium to thank the president and speak briefly about the work his agency. “For those that don’t know me, I get my inspiration from Teddy Roosevelt,” said Zinke, a former Navy Seal, invoking the famous legacy of the naturalist president. He went on to say that he was “thrilled with the president’s decision.”
Zinke said the president’s donation would go toward maintaining the infrastructure of the 25 national battlefields that have been memorialized as parks. “We’re about $229 million behind in deferred maintenance on the battlefields alone,” he said.
Zinke, who has in the past vacillated on the issue of climate change (he said during his confirmation hearing that he doesn’t believe it’s a hoax but questions the degree of human influence) immediately faced questions that targetted his mention of Teddy Roosevelt.
“How’s that war on coal thing work in there? You’re saying that you’re gonna open it up because of a war on coal?” asked one reporter, referring to Zinke’s recent decision to resume coal mining leases on federal lands. “Isn’t that kinda contrary to what Teddy Roosevelt wanted?”
Zinke responded by referencing issues of job security for those who work in the coal industry, as well as appealing to the national security that he said comes from America producing its own energy. “Like you, I don’t want my kids to have to fight for war over energy resources we have here,” he said. “The world is safer when America is stronger, and America is strongest not being dependent on foreign sources for energy.”
“We can do it here right,” he said, saying it was better to produce coal in the U.S. where it could be regulated responsibly.
It’s unclear to which regulations Zinke was referring, since just last week President Trump signed an executive order shredding President Obama’s climate policy, much of which revolved around limiting coal production. If Zinke was instead attempting to refer to the infamous, elusive clean coal, then he, like all others who champion its use, was referring to a fantasy.