Ground Truth: Dispatch

Former Georgia Governor Trump’s Pick for Ag Secretary

Sonny Perdue, a former Georgia governor who famously led a prayer vigil for rain outside the state Capitol during a drought, is president-elect Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Forest Service.

Trump announced his choice just a day before taking the oath of office, filling the final vacancy in the president-elect’s prospective cabinet.

The appointment is widely seen as a nod toward rural voters who voted overwhelmingly for Trump. Perdue, who served as Georgia’s governor from 2003 to 2011, grew up on a farm in the state.

There was widespread speculation in recent days that Trump would name a Latino to the post. The president-elect’s proposed cabinet would be the first without a Latino since the Reagan administration.

Perdue lacks a clear track record on issues affecting national forests. Georgia is among the top lumber-producing states, but virtually all of that timber is located on privately held tracts. Trump has pledged to implement widespread cuts to environmental protection regulations and to increase logging and mining on federal lands.

In 2014, Perdue wrote an op-ed published in the National Review in which he railed against those who are concerned about climate change.

“It’s become a running joke among the public,” Perdue wrote,” and liberals have lost all credibility when it comes to climate science because their arguments have become so ridiculous and so obviously disconnected from reality.”

If confirmed, Perdue will oversee an agency with about 100,000 employees and an annual budget of $155 billion. The department oversees 154 national forests and 20 national grasslands, covering 193 million acres.


1 comment on this post

  1. Nimblewill says:

    Sonny Perdue is no friend of public lands or the environment. Here in Georgia, Perdue broke with reason and tradition and placed his campaign manager in charge of the Ga DNR, instead of naming a department head from within the ranks that new what the agency does. (Sound like Trump? Sonny is as corrupt and unethical.)

    This appointment not only undermined our EPD, but the game wardens and wildlife biologists at the Ga DNR Wildlife Resources Division, who continued to see attacks from GOP policy and profiteering by Trump. Sonny privatized some state parks, adding money losing golf courses to others, which ‘paved the way’ for our current GOP shyster (Gov “Shady” Deal) to put zip lines and more private operators at our historic and [formerly] scenic parks.

    Perdue is ethically challenged: he blocked the state from acquiring a pocket of land in middle Ga, Oaky Woods, unique for it’s black bear habitat. The tract–30,00 acres, then–was on our DNR’s list as the most ecologically valued available property available for state forest purchase. One of the larger contiguos black bear habitats this side of the Mississippi. GA had been buying land each year with public funds from license fees and wildlife car tags, but these funds were redirected. Perdue and his investor buddies instead bought this tract, planning subdivision for Warner Robbins Air Base workers, which didn’t grow.

    When Perdue couldn’t develop the tract (swampland, economy falling) he cancelled four N GA wildlife management area (WMA) agreements with the USFS, and directed the DNR to lease the Oaky Woods tract ($12/ac/yr, HUGE profit deal!, as Trump would say.) The dropped WMAs were all on USFS land, free, so this was an additional hit to DNR’s budget.

    Perdue also made a huge profit on a land purchase and sale/trade with a big campaign contributor, and got a special law passed yielding a $100,000 gain. He claimed to not know the rider that benefited him was in the law he signed, though it was sponsored by the legislator who is also his attorney.

    This guy is known for being a crook, a cracker-like little Trump. Perhaps he’s the perfect pick to sell off and trash Georgia’s 880,000 acres of national forest. That the only watershed serving Atlanta is the Chattahoochee National Forest–giving us the largest population on the smallest watershed in North America–and it needs to be protected for watershed and recreation, won’t slow these Trumpsters. It will give them another Disaster Capitalism crisis to self deal and profit from.

    Pandering by praying for rain and denying the obvious climate change challenges Georgia’s agriculture sector, and life as we’ve known it, is just a side show. These guys are about grifiting and self dealing. Enjoy the forest while you can. Putin and the GOP have other plans for America’s riches.

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