Trump’s Interior Pick Says DC Had A ‘Deaf Ear’ During Obama-Era

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to run the Department of Interior thinks Washington, D.C., has been deaf and blind to the communities it is supposed to serve.

“I fully recognize that there is distrust, anger, and even hatred against some federal management policies,” Rep. Ryan Zinke of Montana said in remarks prior to a confirmation hearing for secretary of the interior.

Washington must become a “listening advocate rather than a deaf adversary,” the Republican said before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s Tuesday hearing.

Zinke said he will focus on a three-pronged approach to regulating the country’s natural resources — first he said he’ll “restore trust by working with rather than against local communities and states.”

The Montana Republican also said he will streamline the estimated $12.5 billion in a maintenance backlog repairing the country’s National Parks.

“And third, to ensure the professionals on the front line, our rangers and field managers, have the right tools, right resources, and flexibility to make the right decisions that give a voice to the people they serve,” Zinke’s plans on telling the hearing.

Zinke will likely be asked to flesh out his positions on federal land divestiture, climate change, and natural gas and coal production on federal land.

Zinke opposes one of the Republican Party’s major planks: transferring public land ownership back to the states. He resigned as a delegate to the Republican National Committee earlier this summer because of the GOP’s position on federal land ownership.

Trump’s nominee also opposes Utah Republican Rep. Rob Bishop, the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, who calls to transfer millions of acres of public land from the U.S. Forest Service to the state. Bishop’s committee oversees the Interior Department.

Still, conservationists believe Zinke will fold under pressure to sell off public land, despite his public opposition.

“Zinke must reassure the American people that he will stand up to members of his own party and never tolerate any attempts to hand over the ownership or management of American lands to state or private hands,” Jennifer Rokala, executive director of the Center for Western Priorities, said in December.

The president-elect campaigned on opening federal land to oil drilling, but, like Zinke, also believes the federal government needs to enter into shared governance with state governments in order to make sure federally controlled lands are regulated more efficiently.

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