President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Montana Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke as his Secretary of the Interior. The former U.S. Navy SEAL commander has often found himself at odds with environmentalists, which means he could possibly “reverse environmental policies the Obama administration has pursued over the past eight years.” The Washington Post reported:

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.”

“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,” he said in a statement. “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.”

However, he has regularly opposed selling federal lands to the states, which is the same position as Trump:

“The federal government needs to do a much better job of managing our resources, but the sale or transfer of our land is an extreme proposal and I won’t tolerate it,” Mr. Zinke said at a June congressional hearing.

Zinke resigned his position as a “delegate to the RNC this summer because the party platform included language calling for the sale of public land.” Politico reports the times he has broken with Republicans and sided with Democrats:

He’s also partnered with Democrats on conservation issues: In October 2015 he was the only Republican to support a Democratic amendment to permanently authorize the so-called Land and Water Conservation Fund. He’s also received praise from conservation groups, including the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Teddy Roosevelt Conservancy Partnership, Friends of the East Rosebud and the Outdoor Industry Association.

Zinke would like a “prudent” approach to climate change “that does not do too much damage to the coal industry.” This makes sense since “Montana is the sixth-largest coal-producing state in the nation:”

“You know, if you go up to Glacier Park and you have your lunch on one of the glaciers, you will see the glacier recede while you eat lunch. So you know I have seen the change in my lifetime,” Zinke told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle last year, although he questioned the extent to which carbon emissions were to blame.

“So something’s going on, and so I think you need to be prudent. It doesn’t mean I think you need to be destructive on fossil fuels, but I think you need to be prudent and you need to invest in all-the-above energy,” he added. Zinke touted natural gas as the “easiest path forward,” but also boasted that Montana coal was cleaner than varieties mined in other countries and promoted coal exports.

Zinke has supported Trump since early in the primary and appeared with him on the campaign trail. His wife Lola works on the “transition team dealing with veterans issues.”


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