Senate leaders praise confirmation of Zinke as Department of the Interior secretary

The Senate voted to confirm Ryan Zinke as secretary of the Department of the Interior on Wednesday with support from U.S. Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC), Steve Daines (R-MT) and John Hoeven (R-ND).

Zinke, a Republican, formerly represented Montana at large in the House of Representatives and served on the House Committee on Natural Resources. He became the first Montanan to serve in a president’s cabinet.

“Ryan is a Montanan who grew up in America’s public lands,” Daines said. “He knows that we must strike the right balance between conservation and responsible energy development, and he understands more than most that one-size fits all policies from Washington, D.C., never work for real America.”

Daines highlighted issues that would demand Zinke’s attention in a letter congratulating Zinke on his appointment. Those issues include a moratorium on coal leasing, timely approval of coal export terminal permits, advancement of the Keystone XL pipeline and strengthening the nation’s critical mineral supply.

Hoeven said Zinke understands the “need for a balanced approach to land management” after having served in Montana.

“Throughout the confirmation process, I encouraged him to work with us to advance a range of land management priorities for North Dakota and the nation,” Hoeven said. “These include taking a sensible approach to stewarding our national parks and public lands and ensuring multiple uses like grazing, energy development and recreation.”

Hoeven said Zinke recognizes that a one-size-fits-all approach to energy development on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands does not work for all states. “BLM needs to work collaboratively to make sure that state and local regulators, businesses and other stakeholders have a voice in decision making,” Hoeven said.

Hoeven added that he believed Zinke has “deep respect for our nation’s native peoples” and would work to enhance their standard of living and quality of life. Hoeven, who serves as chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, said he would work with Zinke on other pressing issues in Indian Country, including health care, housing and education.

Burr, meanwhile, said he was proud to support Zinke’s confirmation.

“He is an excellent choice to lead the Department of Interior,” Burr said. “Zinke is a champion of conservation, and I look forward to working with him to ensure that the Land and Water Conservation Fund program will continue to preserve North Carolina’s natural treasures for future generations.”