Ryan Zinke Confirmed As Interior Secretary In Donald Trump's Cabinet
Mar 02 2017 by Larry Hoffman
Montana representative Ryan Zinke is now set to become President Donald Trump's Interior secretary, after the Senate approved him in a bipartisan, though not overwhelming vote on Wednesday.
This follows a failed attempt by Senate Republicans to confirm Rep. Zinke by voice vote on February 17, which was halted by Democratic opposition.
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Zinke, 55, a Republican in his second term as Montana's sole House member, will take over a department that is responsible for the country's more than 400 million surface acres of public land, mostly in the West.
Zinke is the sixteenth Cabinet nominee to pass the Senate, leaving nine other Cabinet-level appointees still awaiting confirmation.
Zinke, who will lead a department that oversees 400 million acres of federal land, has anxious environmental advocates by appearing soft toward oil and gas companies.
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Nonetheless, Zinke describes himself as a "Roosevelt conservationist" and promised throughout his confirmation hearing to oppose the transfer of public lands to private owners.
He also pledged to tackle an estimated 12 billion dollars backlog in maintenance and fix at national parks and stand firm against attempts to sell, give away or transfer federal lands.
Earthjustice's Drew Caputo, a vice president for the environmental group, urged Zinke not to overturn one of President Obama's last acts in office: granting national monument status to the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah.
Cantwell also said Zinke appears willing to support transfer of some federal lands to states, citing his vote for the GOP-sponsored rules package.
Democrats believed they could work with Trump's choice, even though his views on climate change are not entirely in line with theirs; Zinke believes climate change is an issue but is uncertain about what is causing the change.