Energy

Enviros Back Trump’s Pick for Interior Secretary

REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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A prominent environmental group urges senators to confirm President Donald Trump’s pick to head the Department of the Interior.

The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) sent a letter Monday arguing Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke “understands the intrinsic wildlife and conservation values of the Nation’s public lands that are held in trust for generations of all Americans.”

Collin O’Mara, NWF’s president, wrote in his letter that Zinke knows “how best to balance energy development decisions with key conservation priorities.”

During his confirmation hearing, Zinke pledged to ensure no oil and natural gas drilling took place on ecologically sensitive lands or in areas used for outdoor recreation.

The Interior Department oversees territories which cover about 20 percent of the U.S. surface. Many of these are rich deposits of oil, gas and coal, the development of which was repeatedly blocked by the Obama administration.

Opening federal lands for natural gas, oil, and other drilling would create 2.7 million jobs and add $663 billion to the economy each year for the next 30 years, according to a new study published last December by Louisiana State University and the free-market Institute for Energy Research (IER).

Opening up these lands and waters would also lead to $5.1 trillion in new wages and $3.9 trillion in new federal tax revenue over the next 37 years, which would massively stimulate the economy, according to the research. Over a 30 year period, this would create and support 2.7 million new jobs. More than 75 percent of the jobs would be in high-wage, high-skill employment, and many would be “support” jobs outside the energy industry.

To put these numbers in perspective, the U.S. military budget in 2015 was $598.5 billion.

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