Flickr user Gage Skidmore

Trump Taps Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke to Lead Interior

Zinke was an early supporter of Donald Trump during the presidential campaign and openly sought a Cabinet position.

President-elect Donald Trump announced Thursday that he has picked Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., to head the Interior Department. The announcement on GreatAgain.gov comes days after the pick was first reported online by The Washington Post

Zinke was an early supporter of Donald Trump during the presidential campaign and openly sought a Cabinet position. The former Navy SEAL campaigned on a platform of achieving energy independence and is a member of the House Natural Resources Committee.

"A lifelong hunter and fisherman, the 55-year-old Zinke 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. 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," the Post reported.

U.S. News and World Report said, "News of his selection was welcomed by Montana's Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and at least one conservation group, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. The president of the Missoula, Montana-based hunting group, Land Tawney, called Zinke a 'potential ally' in the effort to balance energy development with preservation."

Trump praised Zinke in his statement, saying the Montanan "has built one of the strongest track records on championing regulatory relief, forest management, responsible energy development and public land issues.” He also noted that Zinke will contribute to the administration goal "to repeal bad regulations and use our natural resources to create jobs and wealth for the American people, and Ryan will explore every possibility for how we can safely and responsibly do that.”

In the statement, Zinke quoted Teddy Roosevelt and said he was honored to lead the department charged with managing federal land and working with American Indian programs.

“As someone who grew up in a logging and rail town and hiking in Glacier National Park, I am honored and humbled to be asked to serve Montana and America as Secretary of Interior,” said Zinke. “As inscribed in the stone archway of Yellowstone National Park in Gardiner, Montana, I shall faithfully uphold Teddy Roosevelt’s belief that our treasured public lands are ‘for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.’ I will work tirelessly to ensure our public lands are managed and preserved in a way that benefits everyone for generations to come. Most important, our sovereign Indian Nations and territories must have the respect and freedom they deserve. I look forward to making the Department of Interior and America great again. May God bless Montana, God bless America and God bless the troops who defend her.” 

(Image via Flickr user Gage Skidmore)

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