Following approval by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Rep Ryan Zinke’s nomination for Interior Secretary now heads to the full Senate for a vote.
Zinke, saying Teddy Roosevelt “had it right” in putting millions of acres under federal protection, repeatedly defended his belief at his confirmation hearing in keeping most public land under federal control and opposing large-scale sale of public land to states, a position that aligns him with Donald Trump and breaks with his party.
As Interior Secretary, Zinke’s belief could soon run up against possible larger GOP plans to sell federal land to states, foreshadowed in a rule change by the House last month to alter the cost calculations of transferring federal land. And a bill introduced by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) last week proposes to sell 3.3 million acres of federal land in 10 different states, a move environmental advocates and sportsmen groups say would cut economic activity and block public access to larger parcels of federal land. The 10 states affected are Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming.