Two former Interior Department appointees unpopular with environmentalists have been “burrowed” into senior civil service posts, giving them job security when Barack Obama takes the White House. “It is an attempt by the outgoing administration to limit as much as possible [the incoming administration’s] ability to put its policy imprint on the Department of Interior,” says an anonymous Interior official. Robert D. Comer, who will widely oversee programs of Interior agencies in his new position, was once accused by Interior’s inspector general of using “pressure and intimidation” to secure a grazing agreement; Matthew McKeown, who will help shape mining policy, has been criticized in the past for prioritizing private-property interests.

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