The Senate voted 68 to 31 Wednesday in favor of confirming Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke to head the Department of the Interior.
He was confirmed by most of the Senate’s Democrats, despite concerns related to Zinke’s generally skeptical position on global warming.
Zinke will oversee energy development on federal lands and the protection of endangered species, as well as the country’s national parks. His opposition to federal land divestment runs contrary to many in his own party who want to shift ownership of federal land back to the states.
Democrats believed they could work with Trump’s choice, even though his views on climate change are not entirely in line with theirs; Zinke believes climate change is an issue but is uncertain about what is causing the change.
The Senate voted Monday 63-31 to close debate on Zinke’s confirmation, which opened up a 30-hour window to discuss his nomination before the vote.
Environmental activists are highly critical of President Donald Trump’s focus on oil, gas, and coal development on federal lands. Zinke, who worked on Second Amendment issues in Montana, has signaled his willingness to balance fossil fuel development with environmental stewardship.
Trump campaigned on opening federal land to oil drilling, and, like Zinke, the president 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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