President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday nominated Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke to lead the Interior Department, drawing praise for choosing the former Navy SEAL.
Trump said in a statement Zinke “has built one of the strongest track records on championing regulatory relief, forest management, responsible energy development and public land issues.”
“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,” Trump added.
Zinke said he’s honored by the nomination “as someone who grew up in a logging and rail town and hiking in Glacier National Park.”
He pledged to “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.”
Zinke held Montana’s congressional seat for one term and served as a Navy SEAL from 1986 to 2008.
Zinke's peers offered praise following the nomination.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI):
“Ryan is a no-nonsense leader who has spent his entire life serving this country. He went above and beyond the call of duty as a Navy SEAL for more than two decades. After hanging up the uniform, he decided to continue his service by representing the people of Montana in the House. As a member of the Natural Resources Committee, he has been an ardent supporter of all-of-the-above energy policies and responsible land management. And as a Westerner with close to one third of his state owned by the federal government, he is intimately familiar with how Washington’s decisions affect people’s lives. Ryan’s experience and commitment to improving the lives of all Americans will make him an excellent Interior Secretary. I could not be happier for Ryan, Lola, and their entire family.”
U.S. Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT):
“Ryan Zinke protected us abroad and in combat and I know he will do the same for our treasured public lands as Secretary of the Interior,” Daines stated. “In Congress, I’ve seen Ryan stand up and fight to protect our way of life. As a westerner, Ryan understands the challenges of having the federal government as your largest neighbor and I couldn't think of a better fit for Secretary of the Interior.”
Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC):
“The selection of Congressman Ryan Zinke to head up the Department of the Interior is another great addition by the president-elect to an already excellent cabinet. I am very excited about the pick and I hope that he accepts. This Navy SEAL has been a pleasure to work with over the last Congress. I had the chance to serve with Ryan on the Committee on Natural Resources, which oversees the Department. He showed a depth of knowledge concerning interior issues that will provide an experienced voice in President Trump's White House. Whether that be ensuring that the American public has access to federal lands or that we are developing the energy resources in federal areas, Ryan is someone who is on the right side of these important issues. Ryan and I also share the similar passions for the outdoors and sportsmen's issues. As co-chairman of the largest Caucus in Congress — the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus (CSC) — I look forward to working with a fellow outdoorsman on issues important to the hunters, fishermen, shooters, and outdoor-loving Americans. Initiatives of the CSC like the SHARE Act will be a top priority in the next Congress. I believe Ryan will be ready to help deliver real results to these efforts as well as many others while Secretary of the Interior.”
Dale Hall, CEO of Ducks Unlimited:
“We are pleased to see a hunter and conservationist nominated to the top public lands position and look forward to working with Rep. Zinke on issues of critical importance to conservation.”
Rob Sisson, President of ConservAmerica:
“ConservAmerica congratulates Rep. Ryan Zinke on his nomination to be the next Secretary of the Interior. Based on conversations I’ve had with Rep. Zinke on a number of issues, I am confident President Elect Trump made an inspired choice. Mr. Trump’s comments last week in North Carolina about public lands and the party’s Theodore Roosevelt conservation legacy foreshadowed this caliber of nominee.”
Paul Walker, Executive Director of ConservAmerica:
“His Montana background will serve him well in this role. About one-third of Montana’s land mass is public, providing Rep. Zinke a firm grounding in the challenges inherent in the stewardship of public lands and local economies. His current constituency includes ranchers, farmers, loggers, hunters, anglers, Native Americans, miners, and high-tech innovators. In order to pass our great public lands legacy on to future generations, we need those groups to work more closely as stakeholders with appropriate government agencies. Rep. Zinke is a leader who can bring them together.”
Tina Beattie, Chair of the ConservAmerica Board:
“We stand ready to partner with the new Secretary of Interior as our nation seeks to continue its record of good stewardship of our land, water, and wildlife. We’re excited to see him bring his Navy SEAL ethic to the Department of the Interior.”
Land Tawney, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA) President and CEO:
“Congressman Zinke understands the importance of public lands and balancing management of these important resources with energy development and other uses. As Montana’s lone representative in the House of Representatives, Mr. Zinke has showed himself to be receptive to the interests of a wide range of constituents and a potential ally of sportsmen and other outdoor recreationists.
“Charged with administering significant federal lands and natural resources, the Interior secretary is possibly the most powerful individual in the country when it comes to the future of our cherished public lands and waters, fish and wildlife and outdoor traditions.
“We’re gratified that the Trump administration is listening to our concerns and showing a willingness to act in the best interests of the American people and our irreplaceable public lands legacy."
BHA National Board Chair Ryan Busse:
“Montana sportsmen have welcomed opportunities to engage with Representative Zinke during his work on behalf of Montanans as a member of Congress. We appreciate his efforts to keep public lands public and to strongly fund cornerstone natural resources programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund; at the same time, we are committed to ensuring that fish and wildlife and their habitats are considered priorities with competing uses of our public lands. We look forward to continuing to work closely with Mr. Zinke as Interior secretary.”
Whit Fosburgh, President, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership:
“He’s shown courage and commitment to public lands and conservation and [is] someone we think would be an excellent secretary of interior.” (Washington Post)
Independent Petroleum Association of America President and CEO Barry Russell:
“We’re pleased with President-elect Trump’s selection of Congressman Ryan Zinke, a former Navy SEAL commander, for the position of Secretary of the Interior. 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. Nobody values the importance of public land use better than a Westerner. 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.”
American Petroleum Institute President and CEO Jack Gerard:
“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. As a former member of our armed forces who served as a U.S. 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.”
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