President Donald Trump's decision to greatly reduce the size of Utah's national monuments came after a review that was led by Downey Magallanes, daughter of the former head of Peabody Energy, the world's largest coal company. Magallanes also serves as Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s deputy chief of staff for policy.
Magallanes was at Zinke’s side throughout his months-long monuments review. And her personal calendar shows she had several one-on-one meetings with Zinke to discuss the review in the days before Aug. 24, when Zinke submitted his draft report to the White House.
The decision cut Utah's coal-rich Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument nearly in half, opening more than half a million acres to mining operations.
Interior Department schedules and visitor logs make clear that Magallanes was a key figure in the agency’s review. She was on hand during a press call in April, when Zinke first announced details of Trump’s executive orders that initially threatened the future of 27 national monuments. During the briefing, Zinke introduced Magallanes as his adviser and said she was there to “help me answer questions if I cannot field them.”
Magallanes father, Frederick Palmer, said he had nothing to do with the review or decision and indicated his daughter had recused herself from any agency matters involving Peabody Energy.
But the record would appear to suggest that Magallanes has in fact been involved with Peabody on at least one occasion.
Schedules show Magallanes was among three Interior officials who joined Zinke on a June 5 video call with representatives of her father’s former employer — roughly a month after she and Zinke’s visit to Grand Staircase-Escalante.