Ryan Zinke | Credit: Paul Wellman (file)

Donald Trump’s former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke — forced to resign amid a series of alleged ethics violation — will be descending on the Goleta Elks Lodge on Kellogg Avenue this Saturday evening to bestow a patriotic award on a local Republican Party activist — and deliver a speech on how the fight for freedom is never over. For $150, Zinke will have his photo taken with attendees; the price of admission is $100. Mike Stoker, a former Santa Barbara County Supervisor and West Coast regional director of the Environmental Protection Agency will be acting as emcee.

The event is hosted by The Friends of Santa Barbara to honor Albert Mercado, a member of the Republican Central Committee who during his long career played a helping role in crafting the first lunar landing vehicle. Mercado was born in Italy, raised in Bolivia, and emigrated to the United States.

The event comes one day after Santa Barbara observes its second climate strike. In the past two weeks, the EPA has attacked California’s legal right to impose tougher tailpipe emission and mileage standards than other states. California has enjoyed this special right for 50 years. When the Trump administration sought to roll back fuel economy standards from 54 miles per gallon to 37, California air quality officials negotiated separate agreements with four of the major automakers, who agreed to 50 miles per gallon. That prompted the recent legal attack by the Trump White House. In addition, the EPA has also threatened to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in federal freeway revenues, alleging that more than 100 of the state’s air quality plans fail to pass federal muster.

Despite this history, Santa Barbara climate-change activists have no plans to protest the Stoker-Zinke event. As Secretary of Interior, Zinke pursued an aggressively pro-oil policy, attempting to open up federal waters off the coast to new oil development. He also sought to reduce the size of the Carrizo Plain National Monument to allow more onshore oil development. Zinke is a frequent visitor to Santa Barbara; the family of his wife Lola Zinke, live here.

[Update: Sept. 27, 2019] ForestWatch announced today it would be holding a rally at the Elks Lodge in advance of the Zinke-Stoker event.


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