Last December President Donald Trump made a controversial decision to reduce the size of Bears Ears national monument in Utah by 85 percent—the most substantial rollback of federal land protection in American history.
Trump's decision was informed by a report compiled by the secretary of the interior, Ryan Zinke.
Zinke's qualifications? According to a recent report by CNN Politics, Zinke wrote in his autobiography, American Commander: "I studied geology [at University of Oregon] as a result of closing my eyes and randomly pointing to a major from the academic catalog, and I never looked back. I am just glad I did not find electronics."
"I'm a geologist," he reportedly said at a Senate Appropriations hearing last June, "And I don't consider myself a genius, but I'm a pretty smart guy."
Several geologists told CNN that "someone with a 34-year-old degree who never worked in the field is not considered a geologist."
"He seems not to be familiar with modern geologic knowledge," said Seth Stein, a professor at the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University.
Last month, the New York Times obtained emails which showed that Zinke's motivation to reduce Bears Ears was related to potential oil exploration at the site.
Zinke says that's not the case.
"I'm a geologist," he said in a meeting with lawmakers. "I can assure you that oil and gas in Bears Ears was not part of my decision matrix. A geologist will tell you there is little, if any, oil and gas."