Trump's Interior Department Nominee: Ryan Zinke
Trump has nominated Ryan Zinke as the nation’s next Secretary of the Department of Interior. Zinke, a current member of the U.S. House of Representatives and former Montana State Senator, as well as a 23-year military veteran, currently serves on the House Armed Services Committee in addition to the House Committee on Natural Resources.
The U.S. Department of Interior manages the nation’s natural resources and cultural heritage. Its’ mission is to, “Protect America's great outdoors and powering our future.” The Department of Interior's range of responsibilities includes the following: land and water conservation, climate change, natural resource investment, and reducing the interior’s carbon footprint. The Department of Interior manages 75% of federal public lands, i.e. the National Park Service, and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and Land Management among others.
Zinke’s past has heightened skepticism of his qualifications for the position. According to the Great Falls Tribune in Montana, in 2014 a former Navy officer accused Ryan Zinke of fabricating his military record and using Navy travel funds for personal travel. Published by Intelligentdiscontent.com, Zinke’s former Commander released a letter exposing the Senator’s tendency to fabricate his role stating, “After looking carefully at the situation in which he was involved, I just didn’t feel comfortable getting hooked up with what was clearly going to be a high-donor operation and possibly geared to Ryan’s future political benefit. That has turned out to be the case, as Zinke declared his candidacy for the U.S. House of Represents, immediately following the release of his (alleged) fabricated military record. Zinke quickly resigned as SOFA’s chairman after announcing his candidacy and was then given a grant from the same Political Action Committee that he established. That, to me, is not “conflict of interest;” it is “coincidence of interest,” writes retired Navy Seal Captain Larry Bailey.
The U.S. Interior Department released a draft report on Jan.11, and it discussed the steps the next administration needs to take in order to ensure reforms of coal mining on federal lands. According to Wilderness.org, if Ryan Zinke is confirmed, “… Zinke will have the option to follow the possible reforms in the report or ignore the report and lift the pause on new coal leasing on federal lands. Zinke’s Senate confirmation has been scheduled for Tuesday, January 17th.