WASHINGTON, DC — Continued mining and drilling on public lands is inevitable if Trump’s selection Ryan Zinke is appointed to head up the Department of Interior. However, there is a slight glimmer of hope. Zinke states he is in favor of good stewardship of the country’s public lands and is not in favor selling its acreage to States.
Let’s see about that.
Representative Ryan Zinke of Montana, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of Interior sought to outline a measured approach to the job of managing America’s national parks, forests and tribal lands during a four-hour Senate confirmation hearing that was mostly cordial.
“Yes,” he said in response to a question from Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska about whether he would review drilling curbs imposed by President Barack Obama’s administration in her state, home to vast petroleum deposits both onshore and beneath Arctic waters.
“I can guarantee you it is better to produce energy domestically under reasonable regulation than overseas with no regulation … We need an economy.”
But he added he was committed to protecting sensitive wildlife habitats and to keeping federal lands under federal control to ensure they are preserved for future generations, so “my granddaughter’s children can look back and say that we did it right.”
The Interior Department oversees territories covering a fifth of the United States’ surface from the Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico, including rich deposits of oil, gas and coal and important pasturelands for ranchers.
Zinke, an avid hunter and angler, emerged as a surprise pick to head the department in part because he has embraced federal stewardship of public land, diverging from the Republican Party’s official position to sell off acreage to states. Read more »
Ryan Zinke wasted no time Tuesday in answering the biggest question looming over his Senate confirmation hearing: will he, or won’t he, sell off public lands as Secretary of the Interior?
Thirty minutes in he came right out and said it: “I am absolutely against transfer or sale of public land.”
But just because Zinke wants to keep public lands in public hands doesn’t mean he won’t also allow drilling and mining on them. That was the big takeaway from Tuesday’s testimony in front of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Read more »
Now that we have heard from a couple of news outlets on what Rep. Zilke has to say, let’s take a look at what his voting record has to say from Montana Democrats:
Zinke says: He supports Montana’s rich outdoor heritage. The record shows:
• Zinke Supported Plan to Sell Off Our Public Lands. In 2014, Zinke supports the budget by Rep. Paul Ryan which proposes paying off the national debt by selling public off our public lands. [Congressional GOP Debate, 5/28/14; Billings Gazette, 6/28/14]
• Zinke Pledged to Transfer Federal Lands to the State-Opening It Up to Privatization. In 2012, Zinke signed the Montana Constitutional Governance Pledge that included working to transfer federal lands to the state. Nearly 300 hunters and anglers protested possible transfer of lands, saying it would likely result in selling Montana’s lands to the highest bidder and close down access. [Polymontana, 5/04/12; Montana Constitutional Pledge, 5/04/12; Independent Record, 9/27/14]
• Zinke Opposes North Fork Protection Act.In 2014, Ryan Zinke said he opposed the North Fork Protection Act, saying “Up front, I didn’t like the North Fork basin bill either, and I like Steve, you know we all love Steve but I didn’t like that bill either because it took natural development out for perpetuity forever.” [GCRW, 5/21/14; Intelligent Discontent, 8/22/14]
• Zinke Supports a “Land Grab” Bill That Opens Unprecedented Development on Public Lands. Zinke supports a DC written bill that would turn over Montana’s public lands to out-of-state developers and jeopardize access to hunting and fishing.. [Billings Gazette, 8/31/14; Bozeman Daily Chronicle, 2/17/14; KPAX, 1/15/14]
• Zinke Received a 0% Rating from the Montana Sportsmen Alliance. In 2011, Zinke received a 0% rating from the Montana Sportsmen Alliance that fight for the interests of Montana’s hunters and anglers. [Montana Sportsmen Alliance, 2011 Scorecard]
• Zinke Voted to Block Access to More Fishing, Hunting and State Parks.In 2011, Zinke voted to stop the state Fish, Wildlife and Parks department from purchasing more land, which increases access to fishing, hunting, and state parks. [SB 301, 2/24/11; Montana Sportsmen Alliance, 2011 Scorecard]
• Zinke Voted to Destroy the Habitat program, Privatizing and Commercializing Wildlife and Hunting Opportunities. In 2011, Zinke voted for a bill that would effectively destroy the Habitat Montana program, privatizing and commercializing wildlife and hunting opportunities. The bill reduced funding for the Habitat Montana program by 30% over a four year period, cutting in half the dollars available for the purchase of access for hunting. [HB 209, 4/11/11; Veto, 5/10/11; Montana Sportsmen Alliance, 2011 Scorecard]
• Zinke Voted to Commercialize Hunting in Montana and Allow Non-Residents Hunters More Access. In 2011, Zinke voted for legislation that would add 2,000 more non-resident wilderness deer/elk combo licenses that would result in 2,000 more nonresident hunters competing with resident hunters, more commercialization, more roads closed and more land unavailable to resident hunters. [SB 400, 3/30/11; Montana Sportsmen Alliance, 2011 Scorecard]
Read more »
Environmental groups for the most part are predictably despondent about the nomination. The League of Conservation Voters gives Zinke a 3 percent rating on his congressional record. Read more »
That glimmer of hope just flickered out.
Rep. Ryan Zinke, Reuters.