Ryan Zinke Confirmation Hearing

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01/17/2017

Ryan Zinke Confirmation Hearing

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BY BREITBART

President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for interior secretary says the nation’s vast federal lands should be used for a variety of purposes, from hiking, hunting, fishing and camping to harvesting timber and mining for coal and other energy sources. In prepared remarks for his confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke said his father and the Boys Scouts taught him the principles of environmental stewardship and the importance of public access to public lands. Zinke, an admirer of President Theodore Roosevelt, said management of federal lands should be done under a “multiple-use” model set forth by Gifford Pinchot, a longtime Roosevelt associate and the first chief of the U.S. Forest Service. Zinke also pledged to tackle an estimated $12 billion backlog in maintenance and repair at national parks, saying parks and other public lands should be a key part of Trump’s infrastructure improvement plan.

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Interior nominee Zinke urges array of uses for federal lands

Interior nominee Zinke urges array of uses for federal lands

BY BREITBART

WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for interior secretary says the nation’s vast federal lands should be used for a variety of purposes, from hiking, hunting, fishing and camping to harvesting timber and mining for coal and other energy sources.

In prepared remarks for his confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke said his father and the Boys Scouts taught him the principles of environmental stewardship and the importance of public access to public lands.

Zinke, an admirer of President Theodore Roosevelt, said management of federal lands should be done under a “multiple-use” model set forth by Gifford Pinchot, a longtime Roosevelt associate and the first chief of the U.S. Forest Service.

Zinke also pledged to tackle an estimated $12 billion backlog in maintenance and repair at national parks, saying parks and other public lands should be a key part of Trump’s infrastructure improvement plan.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of Zinke’s remarks in advance of the hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Zinke has said he would never sell, give away or transfer public lands — a crucial stance in his home state of Montana and the West where access to hunting and fishing is considered sacrosanct.

Zinke feels so strongly that he resigned as a delegate to the Republican National Convention last summer because of the GOP’s position in favor of land transfers to state or private groups. But Zinke’s commitment to public lands has come into question in recent weeks and is likely to be a point of contention at Tuesday’s hearing.

Zinke, 55, a former Navy SEAL who just won his second term in Congress, was an early Trump supporter and, like his prospective boss, has expressed skepticism about the urgency of climate change.

As a self-described “Teddy Roosevelt Republican,” Zinke has supported legislation to boost land and water conservation and recreation on public lands. Zinke has also advocated for increased oil and gas drilling and coal-mining on Western lands.

The Interior Department and other U.S. agencies control almost 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’s position on public lands came under fire after he voted in favor of a measure from House Republicans that would allow federal land transfers to be considered cost-free and budget-neutral, making it easier for drilling and development.

Zinke “says he’s against transfer of federal lands, but there’s a big gap between what he says and what he does in that regard,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, the nation’s oldest and largest environmental group.

Zinke’s spokeswoman said the congressman maintains his position against the sale or transfer of federal lands.

Indeed, his support for public lands was a crucial reason why Zinke was chosen by Trump. The president-elect and his son, Donald Trump Jr., both oppose sale of federal lands. The younger Trump, an avid hunter, has taken a keen interest in Interior issues and played a key role in Zinke’s selection.

Coal is likely to be another focus on Tuesday. 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.”

“I don’t agree with keeping it in the ground,” he said during his re-election campaign.

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership endorsed Zinke, calling him “a leader on many issues important to America’s hunters and anglers.”

Brune, of the Sierra Club, scoffed at the comparison to Roosevelt, saying the only way to connect the men is “to describe the ways Zinke wants to undo TR’s legacy” of conservation.

Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington state, the top Democrat on the energy panel, said she is eager to ask Zinke about modernizing the federal coal program “to make sure American taxpayers aren’t short-changed for the benefit of corporate interests.” Cantwell also said she wants reassurances that Zinke will protect the interests of American consumers and native tribes, and “not just the coal and mining companies.”

Zinke spent 23 years as a Navy SEAL and was awarded two Bronze Stars for combat missions in Iraq. He currently serves on the House Natural Resources and Armed Services committees.

He made an unsuccessful 2012 run for Montana lieutenant governor before shifting his ambitions to Congress in 2014. Before his selection for Interior, Zinke had been considered a likely challenger to Democratic Sen. Jon Tester in 2018.

BY BREITBART


Interior Secretary-Designate Rep. Ryan Zinke: ‘If I Am Confirmed, I Will Be a Very Busy Man’

Interior Secretary-Designate Rep. Ryan Zinke: ‘If I Am Confirmed, I Will Be a Very Busy Man’

BY BREITBART

Interior Secretary-designate Rep. Ryan Zinke (R.-Mont.) delivered a master class in congressional testimony Tuesday as the gregarious Navy SEAL veteran fielded questions from Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

“The view from the Potomac is a lot different from the view from the Missouri,” said Zinke as he repeatedly made the point that centralized decision-making in Washington, pushing national one-size-fits-all solutions, has fostered frustration in the west.

The congressman said he would channel his hero Theodore Roosevelt, who thought big, bold, and with the idea that you should be able to look back in 100 years and be proud of what you did.

“I would say there are three immediate tasks,” he said.

“The first is to restore by working with rather than against local communities and states,” he said.

“I fully recognize that there is distrust, anger, and even hatred against federal management policies,” he said. “Being a listening advocate rather than a deaf adversary is a good start.”

Zinke said his second priority is the $12.5 billion worth of maintenance and repair projects in the national parks.

The congressman said that President-elect Donald J. Trump has committed to a major infrastructure and jobs bill, which he expects to include a decent part of the national parks backlog.

Turning around the poor morale of the Department of Interior‘s workforce would be the third goal, he said.

The spirits of the front line personnel at the Bureau of Land Management, the Park Service, and other agencies inside the department are low and the agencies are losing good people, he said. “They’ve just had it!”

A combat veteran of the Iraq War, Zinke said he learned from his military service that when morale on the front line is poor, it means the morale in the rest of the force is in trouble.

Other tasks Zinke committed to were improving the lives and healthcare of Native Americans living on Indian reservations, expediting the approval process for extraction projects, and ending the so-called war on coal and oil. “If I am confirmed, I will be a very busy man.”

The congressman said that in some parts of his state, if you eliminated the coal industry, the unemployment rate would reach 90 percent.

Given its value to the economy, America should lead the world in the technology needed to exploit the energy locked in coal cleanly.

Zinke was introduced to the committee by the two senators from his state, Republican Sen. Steven D. Daines and Democrat Sen. Jon Tester. Both senators vouched for the congressman, but it was interesting that Tester stepped up for Zinke, as the congressman was under tremendous pressure to run against Tester when he comes up for reelection in 2018.

Daines, who is also a member of the committee, said he was proud to know Zinke and that if he is confirmed, he would be the first Montana resident to serve as a cabinet officer.

Many of the senators used their time to address issues affecting their own states, unlike in other confirmation hearings, where senators went sharpshooting at the nominees, wording questions meant to highlight an awkward disagreement between the nominee and the president-elect. The major exception to this trend was Sen. Bernie Sanders (I.-Vt.) about whether or not “climate change” was a hoax, as Trump has said at rallies and in Tweets.

Zinke: I am not a climate science expert. But, I can tell you I will become a lot more familiar with it and it will be based on objective science–I don’t believe that’s its a hoax. I–

Sanders: You do not believe it is a hoax?

Zinke: No, I believe we should be prudent to be prudent. I don’t know definitively, there is a lot of debate on both sides of the aisle–

Sanders: Actually, there is not a whole lot of debate now. The scientific community is virtually unanimous that climate change is real and causing devastating problems. There is debate within this committee, but not inside the scientific community.

In a fuller response, Zinke told Sanders and the committee that he accepts that the climate is changing and that man has some effect on the change. However, he was not ready to then commit to any program that would hurt the lives and businesses of regular Americans without putting their concerns into the mix.

A number of exchanges dealt with the controversy of protecting the sage grouse, a bird found in the northern plains of the Midwest and across the Rocky Mountains. Federal plans to protect the bird have pulled in military personnel, as the bird is found on at least eight military installations.

Zinke told the senators he does not think federal plans have been well thought out, given that there is no population census of the species. In addition to the challenges to the military, the sage grouse is also found in areas where there is ranching and oil and gas extraction.

Idaho Republican Sen. James E. Risch said where he needed Zinke to weigh in was in the intramural battle between the Fish and Wildlife Service, which designated the bird “threatened,” but not endangered, and the Bureau of Land Management, which manages leases of federal land for oil, gas, mineral, timber and other uses.

People in the east have no idea what is going on in the west, Risch said. “I have come to the conclusion that the Mississippi River gets wider every year.”

During the confirmation hearing for President Barack Obama’s Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, Risch asked her if she had ever heard of the sage grouse and she said no.

Risch said western governors, stakeholders, and the Fish and Wildlife Service developed a plan that the Fish and Wildlife Service brought back to Washington, only to have the Bureau of Land Management object.

“Why bother having a Fish and Wildlife Service?” he asked. “It is frustrating and it is making us angry.”

The former Idaho governor said he liked what he heard from Zinke and hoped he brings wholesale changes to the Department of Interior, just as people are expecting at other departments.

When the hearing ended, there was no sense that any of the senator would be motivated to oppose the congressman, who is expected to be one of the first cabinet nominees to be confirmed.

BY BREITBART


Interior nominee Zinke disputes Trump on climate change

Interior nominee Zinke disputes Trump on climate change

BY BREITBART

WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump’s choice to head the Interior Department on Tuesday rejected the president-elect’s claim that climate change is a hoax, saying it is indisputable that environmental changes are affecting the world’s temperature and human activity is a major reason.

“I don’t believe it’s a hoax,” Rep. Ryan Zinke told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee at his confirmation hearing.

“The climate is changing. The debate is what is that influence and what can we do,” said the Montana Republican.

Trump has suggested in recent weeks he’s keeping an open mind on the issue and may reconsider a campaign pledge to back away from a 2015 Paris agreement that calls for global reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

In contradicting Trump, Zinke cited Glacier National Park in his home state as a prime example of the effects of climate change, noting that glaciers there have receded in his lifetime and even from one visit to the next.

Still, he told Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., that there is debate about how much humans have influenced the climate.

Likely to win Senate confirmation, Zinke sketched out a variety of purposes for the nation’s vast federal lands, from hiking, hunting, fishing and camping to harvesting timber and mining for coal and other energy sources.

An admirer of President Theodore Roosevelt, Zinke said management of federal lands should be done under a “multiple-use” model set forth by Gifford Pinchot, a longtime Roosevelt associate and the first chief of the U.S. Forest Service.

Zinke also pledged to tackle an estimated $12 billion backlog in maintenance and repair at national parks, saying parks and other public lands should be a key part of Trump’s infrastructure improvement plan.

Zinke has said he would never sell, give away or transfer public lands — a crucial stance in his home state of Montana and the rest of the West where access to hunting and fishing is considered sacrosanct.

Zinke feels so strongly that he resigned as a delegate to the Republican National Convention last summer because of the GOP’s position in favor of land transfers to state or private groups. But Zinke’s commitment to public lands has come into question in recent weeks.

The Interior Department and other U.S. agencies control almost 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’s position on public lands came under fire after he voted in favor of a measure from House Republicans that would allow federal land transfers to be considered cost-free and budget-neutral, making it easier for drilling and development.

Zinke “says he’s against transfer of federal lands, but there’s a big gap between what he says and what he does in that regard,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, the nation’s oldest and largest environmental group.

Zinke told senators Tuesday that he flatly opposes all sales or transfer of federal lands.

Indeed, his support for public lands was a crucial reason why Zinke was chosen by Trump. The president-elect and son Donald Trump Jr. both oppose sale of federal lands. The younger Trump, an avid hunter, has taken a keen interest in Interior Department issues and played a key role in Zinke’s selection.

Zinke also reiterated his support for coal production on federal lands as part of an all-of-the above energy strategy

Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington state, the top Democrat on the energy panel, asked Zinke about modernizing the federal coal program, saying it was important “to make sure American taxpayers aren’t short-changed for the benefit of corporate interests

Zinke promised to review the coal program and said he thinks taxpayers “should always get fair value,” whether it’s coal, wind power or other energy sources.

BY BREITBART


GETTY IMAGES


Dem Sen. Heinrich Praises "Passionate Sportsman" Zinke: "It's Part Of What I Like About You.”


Dem Sen. Tester Praises Ryan Zinke: "He Is Well Equipped To Hold This Post With Accountability"


Sen. Daines Praises Zinke: "I Have No Doubt He Will Be A Fighter For America, For Our Public Lands"


Sen. Manchin Commends Rep. Zinke On Bipartisan Introductions, Zinke Responds This Job Is America


Sen. Risch Praises Zinke: "Thankful" Trump Picked A "Westerner…Who Understands Western Issues”


Rep Zinke Slams Problematic Obama Administration 11th Hour Rules


Rep. Zinke: “I Don’t Yield To Pressure’


Rep. Zinke: “'The War On Coal, I Believe, Is Real.”


Rep. Zinke Advocates For A Balanced Approach To Federal Lands Management


Rep. Zinke Advocates For More State And Local Control Over Where Funds Are Allocated


Rep. Zinke Promises To Restore Trust And Work With Local Communities


Zinke Stresses Importance Of Ground Up Policies: "You Need To Listen" & "Involve The Communities"


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