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Trump chooses Zinke as Interior secretary

Written by  Thursday, 15 December 2016 11:16

President-elect Donald Trump has nominated Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke as the next US Secretary of the Department of the Interior (DOI), in which he will oversee the regulatory bodies the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).

Image of Zinke, from US House of Representatives. 

As Secretary of the Interior, Zinke will be responsible for the management and conservation of US federal land and natural resources, including offshore drilling, wildlife, parks, and more.

Zinke has spent his time in the US House of Representatives building an impressive portfolio on Interior issues ranging from federal mineral leases to tribal affairs to public lands conservation. Zinke is widely praised for his voting record that supports the Teddy Roosevelt philosophy of managing public lands, which calls for multiple-use to include economic, recreation and conservation, Trump said in a statement.

“I am pleased to nominate Congressman Ryan Zinke as our Secretary of the Interior. He has built one of the strongest track records on championing regulatory relief, forest management, responsible energy development and public land issues,” said Trump. “As a former Navy SEAL, he has incredible leadership skills and an attitude of doing whatever it takes to win. America is the most beautiful country in the world and he is going to help keep it that way with smart management of our federal lands. At the same time, my administration’s goal is 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.”

Zinke served for 23 years as a US Navy SEAL, retiring in 2008 with a rank of Commander after leading SEAL operations throughout the globe. After serving in the Montana State Senate, Zinke became the first Navy SEAL to serve in the US House of Representatives when he was elected in 2014.

In Congress, he has served on the Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Natural Resources. Zinke is an adopted member of the Assiniboine Sioux Tribe at the Fort Peck Reservation in Northeast Montana. Zinke is married to his wife Lolita and they have three children. He holds a geology degree from the University of Oregon, where he was an All-PAC 10 football player, a master’s in business finance from National University, and a master’s in global leadership from the University of San Diego.

“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.”

Several industry bodies have welcomed Zinke’s nomination, including the American Petroleum Institute (API).

“As a member of the House Natural Resources Committee and a fifth generation Montanan, Congressman Zinke knows the great potential that our federal lands hold when it comes to developing our nation’s energy resources, and he knows that this is good for American jobs and strengthening our national security,” said API President and CEO Jack Gerard. “As a former member of our armed forces who served as a US Navy Seal for over two decades, Congressman Zinke knows that our nation’s energy security and national security are dependent upon each other. We look forward to working with Congressman Zinke is his new role on policies that will keep energy affordable, create jobs, and protect our environment as we lead the world in the production and refining of oil and natural gas while reducing carbon emissions,” Gerard said.

National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) President Randall Luthi also applauded the nomination of Zinke.

“We look forward to Rep. Zinke bringing back balance in the multiple-use of public lands, both on and offshore,” Luthi said. “As a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Zinke has been an advocate for an all-of-the-above energy strategy for our country. Furthermore, as a former Navy SEAL commander, he understands the national security benefits of American energy production. Increasing access to energy resources on our public lands, both on and offshore, lowers our reliance on energy from foreign countries that may not necessarily share American values.

“One key role the Interior Department plays is that of manager of the mineral resources of the federal offshore.  About a quarter of America’s domestically-produced oil and natural gas comes from the offshore, and the industry is the second highest contributor to federal coffers, next to income taxes.  For these reasons, and many others, we hope that the Interior Department, under the leadership of Ryan Zinke, will re-assess the next Five Year Offshore Leasing Program, which, under the current Administration, keeps over 85% of America’s federal offshore areas off limits for oil and natural gas leasing.

“A strong offshore energy program is fundamental to our nation’s energy, economic and national security. We are confident that Rep. Zinke will lead the Department in a manner that will recognize America’s true energy potential, and NOIA’s members stand ready to work with him in supporting a well-balanced energy policy that promotes increased access to oil, gas and wind resources on the outer continental shelf and enhances the recreational opportunities that the U.S. outer continental shelf can provide,” Luthi said.

The Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) President and CEO Barry Russell said he was pleased with Trump’s selection of Zinke.

“The Interior Secretary is our nation’s strongest advocate for protecting and actively harnessing more than 500 million acres of federal land and natural resources for the benefit of all Americans,” Russell said. “As a conservationist hailing from the energy-producing state of Montana, Congressman Zinke understands the critical role that the Interior Department plays in balancing the effective management of our nation’s lands and waters with multiple use policies that open access to the public for conservation, recreational opportunities, job-creating economic activities, and safe, responsible energy development. IPAA looks forward to continuing to work with Congressman Zinke in his new role as Interior Secretary and collaborate together on new ways to grow our economy, while improving the environment and enhancing life for all Americans.”

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