Ryan Zinke Confirmation Hearing For Interior Secretary

Jan 18, 2017, 00:54

Introducing himself as an "unapologetic admirer of Teddy Roosevelt", Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) told lawmakers considering his confirmation as the next secretary of the Department of Interior (DOI) that he believes climate change is real, a significant departure from President-elect Donald Trump. "I don't believe it's a hoax", Zinke said.

But Zinke's commitment to public lands has come into question recently and is likely to be a point of contention Tuesday as a Senate committee considers his nomination to be interior secretary under President-elect Donald Trump.

"I think a review is good". He reverted to the classic not-a-scientist logic we've heard from his colleagues before.

"Again, we need an economy and jobs too, and in my experience of probably seeing 63 different countries, I've seen what happens when you don't have regulations-" Zinke responded.

Zinke, a former Navy SEAL commander and an avid hunter and angler, emerged as a surprise pick to head the department in part because he has embraced federal stewardship of national parks, forests and refuges.

Zinke also said he supports the permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, though he said the department needs to "look at revenues and evening out the revenue source", adding that local communities, especially states on the Gulf of Mexico, should have more say where the funds go.

Zinke said he believed Trump could "amend" Obama's moves to declare millions of acres of federal property as national monuments.

He testified later that he is "absolutely against transfer or sale of public land".

Before running for the White House, Trump called climate change a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese to weaken US businesses, a position he has since defended.

The Interior Department and other USA agencies control nearly a third of land in the West and even more of the underground "mineral estate" that holds vast amounts of coal, oil and natural gas.

Zinke said climate change isn't a hoax, but from there, his answer got muddier. Zinke added that "man has had an influence-I think that is undisputable as well".

In his opening remarks, Zinke struck a moderate tone, saying that he recognizes that some federal lands require strong protection. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on his beliefs regarding climate change and questioned about what, if anything, he would do to protect federal lands from drilling and corporate exploitation. Montana boasts the largest coal reserves in the nation, and Zinke has warned environmentalists and the Obama administration that to take coal out of the energy mix would be "a disaster".

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