Published: Thu, March 02, 2017
Science | By Kerry Wheeler

US Senate confirms Montana Rep. Zinke as Interior Secretary

US Senate confirms Montana Rep. Zinke as Interior Secretary

The Senate voted to confirm Wednesday Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke to lead the Department of the Interior. "There's too much at stake to sit on the sidelines.I'm running for Congress because i believe you deserve to have your voice heard, and a champion who will always be on Montana's side".

Conservationists are applauding his previous comments in support of maintaining access to federal public lands.

The Senate voted 68-31 in Zinke's favor - a solid margin for a Trump cabinet appointee after a handful of other nominees were approved by a razor's-edge.

Montana Sens. Steve Daines and Jon Tester supported Zinke's confirmation.

The congressman will reportedly resign his House seat before his official swearing in as the next Secretary of the Interior. Ron Wyden of OR, who had abstained from voting on Zinke's nomination in committee and voted "present" in a procedural roll call Monday over concerns that Zinke backed transferring the Agriculture Department's Forest Service to Interior.

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Monday's vote of 67-31 cleared the way for the U.S. Senate to conduct a final floor hearing on Wednesday morning.

The National Ocean Industries Association said Zinke "brings the promise of dawn after eight years of darkness for the offshore energy industry".

Zinke also pledged to tackle an estimated $12 billion backlog in maintenance and fix at national parks and stand firm against attempts to sell, give away or transfer federal lands. He lives in the West.

During his confirmation hearings, Zinke acknowledged that there is evidence of climate change, but he expressed his doubts regarding the role in that process played by human activity.

"I think the state should have a say on it", he said. It also would have effectively transferred management oversight of 60 million acres of federal lands to the states.

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