Rep. Ryan Zinke, President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpPence: Supreme Court has chance to right 'historic wrong' with abortion ruling Prosecutor says during trial that actor Jussie Smollett staged 'fake hate crime' Overnight Defense & National Security — US, Iran return to negotiating table MORE’s choice to lead the Interior Department, on Tuesday called public lands “America’s treasure” and promised changes like better cooperation with local communities near federal lands.
Zinke’s opening speech at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee focused on his credentials as a committed conservationist, while largely avoiding controversial issues like how much fossil fuel extraction should happen on federal land.
“Without question, our public lands are America’s treasure and are rich in diversity,” said Zinke, a Republican who currently serves as Montana’s at-large representative in the House.
“If confirmed, I will work with each of you to ensure the use of our public lands reflects higher purpose so that our children’s children can look back and say ‘we did it right.’”
Zinke said he recognizes that different federal lands deserve different treatment, such as wilderness areas that humans rarely touch and areas where “multiple-use” management, like recreation, energy development and other activities, are more appropriate.
He said he would make three priorities: work to restore trust through cooperation with local communities and states, work on the National Park Service’s $12.5 million maintenance backlog — which he wants to be part of Trump’s major infrastructure legislation — and giving front-line land managers the ability to make decisions that they need to.
“I look forward to ... representing the interests of our great nation and giving a voice to all Americans, to include our great Indian Nations, on how we manage and sustain our public lands and treasures they contain,” he said.