Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Trump picks Montana's congressman to lead Interior Department, on advice of eldest son

Rep. Ryan Zinke at a pro-gun rally in Utah.
(Reuters photo by Jim Urquhart)
President-elect Donald Trump has picked U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke of Montana for interior secretary, partly because the Republican hit if off with Donald Trump Jr., Juliet Eilperin reports for The Washington Post. The two are avid hunters. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) met with Trump Monday and had been the leading contender for the position.

Zinke, an ex-Navy Seal, "has defended public access to federal lands even though he frequently votes against environmentalists on issues ranging from coal extraction to oil and gas drilling," Eilperin writes. "This summer, he quit his post as a member of the GOP platform-writing committee after the group included language that would have transferred federal land ownership to the states. Trump also opposes such land transfers, but the provision made it into the official Republican platform."

"Zinke recently criticized an Interior Department rule aimed at curbing inadvertent releases of methane from oil and gas operations on federal land as 'duplicative and unnecessary'," Eilperin writes. At the time he said: “Clean air and clean water are absolute top priorities when we talk about responsible energy development; however, the final rule issued by the Obama administration does nothing to further protect our resources. This rule is a stark reminder that we need to invest in infrastructure projects like the Keystone pipeline, so we don’t need to flare excess gas.”

Zinke, who has a reputation as being a "straight shooter," during his time in Congress "established a 3 percent voting score with the League of Conservation Voters," Eilperin writes. "But he has broken ranks with the panel’s GOP majority on occasion, opposing a measure by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) that would have allowed each state to buy up to 2 million acres in U.S. Forest Service land to boost timber production. He has also pushed for full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a high priority for outdoors groups."

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