The Latest: Zinke's departure welcomed by environmentalists

The Latest: Zinke's departure welcomed by environmentalists
FILE - In this Dec. 11, 2018 file photo, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke speaks after an order withdrawing federal protections for countless waterways and wetland was signed, at EPA headquarters in Washington. Trump says on Saturday, Dec. 15, Zinke leaving administration at end of year, successor to be announced next week.(AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the departure of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke (all times local):

10:25 a.m.

The coming departure of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is being welcomed by environmentalists.

President Donald Trump announced Saturday that Zinke will leave the administration at the end of the year.

The executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity says “Zinke will go down as the worst Interior secretary in history. His slash-and-burn approach was absolutely destructive for public lands and wildlife.”

But in his statement, Kieran Suckling cautions that Zinke’s departure does not mean the Trump administration will stop its efforts to roll back environmental regulations and promote energy production. He predicts it will be different people but the “same appetite for greed and profits.”

Trump said a replacement for Zinke will be announced next week.

Zinke is leaving the administration as he faces federal investigations into his travel, political activity and potential conflicts of interest.

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9:30 a.m.

President Donald Trump says Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke (ZIN’-kee), who’s facing federal investigations into his travel, political activity and potential conflicts of interest, will leave the administration at year’s end.

Trump tweets that Zinke “accomplished much during his tenure” and that a replacement would be announced next week. The Cabinet post requires Senate confirmation.

Zinke, a former Republican congressman from Montana, is leaving weeks before Democrats take control of the House, a shift in power that promised to intensify probes into his conduct.

Zinke played a leading part in Trump’s efforts to roll back environmental regulations and promote domestic energy development.

His departure comes amid a staff shake-up as Trump heads into his third year in office. The president on Friday named budget director Mick Mulvaney as chief of staff.