For Immediate Release

New Interior Front Runner has Abysmal Environmental Record

Steve Pedery (503) 283-6343 x212
Conservation Director
sp@oregonwild.org

PORTLAND -- December 13, 2016

Today, president-elect Trump’s transition team has hinted that the position of Secretary of the Interior has been offered to Rep. Ryan Zinke, a Congressman from Montana.  It is unclear if he will accept the position, and this news comes after the transition team released a similar claim regarding an offer made to Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington late last week.

Rep. Ryan Zinke, like president-elect Trump, has a confusing and contradictory history on public lands. It is encouraging that he rejected the GOP platform’s call to sell off our National Parks, Forests, Wildlife Refuges and other public lands and has supported the Land and Water Conservation Fund. However, he has also supported legislation – like some of our Oregon Congressional delegation - that would devolve management of America’s public lands state politicians. These proposals seek to promote logging, mining, drilling, and livestock grazing under weakened environmental safeguards while also locking the public out of decision making.

Compared to other nominees like Gov. Mary Fallin and Rep. Morris Rodgers, who have embraced the movement to sell off or give away national public lands, Zinke may be an improvement. Unfortunately, like many of Trump’s other cabinet selections, Zinke has close ties to the oil and gas industry, and an abysmal environmental record. 

If Rep. Zinke is indeed selected by president-elect Trump, he will have a moral and legal responsibility to manage public lands to the benefit of all Americans, and for generations to come. Trump’s fluid positions on a range of issues make it hard to predict what sort of policies American can expect for our National Parks and other public lands.  One thing, however, is certain, if Rep. Zinke does become the Secretary of the Interior and chooses to ace on ill-conceived plans to exploit our public lands heritage for corporate special interests, he and president-elect Trump will face fierce opposition from the American people.