WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Ryan Zinke of Montana, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Interior Secretary, says he would consider an expansion of energy drilling and mining on federal lands but would ensure that sensitive areas remain protected.
As reported by Reuters, the former Navy SEAL outlined a measured approach to the job of managing America’s national parks, forests and tribal lands during a four-hour Senate confirmation on Jan. 17.
When asked about whether he would review drilling limits imposed by President Obama offshore Alaska, Zinke replied “yes” – that he would. The question was posed by Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
“I can guarantee you it is better to produce energy domestically under reasonable regulation than overseas with no regulation,” Zinke was quoted to say. “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.
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. Under Obama, the department placed parts of the offshore Arctic and Atlantic off-limits to drilling.
Zinke said he believed Trump could “amend” Obama’s moves to declare millions of acres of federal property as national monuments. But he conceded that any move Trump made to rescind a designation would immediately be challenged.