After weeks of anticipation
, the U.S. Senate this morning finally took a vote
on the confirmation of Montana’s Ryan Zinke
as Secretary of the Interior
. Zinke tallied up
68 yeas and 31 nays (Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, didn’t vote). A smattering of Democrats joined the bulk of Republicans in giving our now-former congressman the green light, with Sen. Jon Tester and North Dakota’s Sen. Heidi Heitkamp among them. So there you have it, folks. Zinke is officially a member of President Donald Trump’s cabinet. Now he can resign, and political parties back home can finally start scheduling the nominating conventions that will bring Montana one step closer
to a new congressional delegate.
Obviously today’s news triggered a lot of reactions, particularly on the conservation front. Here’s a list of the statements from various politicians, parties and organizations now flooding our inboxes:
From Sen. Jon Tester, “As a Montanan, I know how important the Department of Interior is to supporting our western way of life, protecting our public lands, and living up to our trust responsibilities in Indian Country. I believe Congressman Zinke will do right by Montana and the country in this role. Montana will be watching, and I know he’ll make us proud.”
From Sen. Steve Daines, who called for the vote, “This is a historic moment for Montana as Congressman Zinke is the first Montanan to ever serve in a President’s cabinet. Ryan is a Montanan who grew up in America’s public lands. 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.”
From Gov. Steve Bullock, “I congratulate Ryan Zinke on his confirmation as Secretary of the Interior. Montanans know how important this post is to protecting our public lands, outdoor recreation, tourism, and natural resource industries—and the thousands of good-paying Montana jobs that rely on them. I will work closely with Secretary Zinke to ensure our state’s interests are reflected in Washington, DC, and I will hold him accountable to Montanans and to the values we place on our outdoor heritage.”
From Montana Republican Party Chairman Jeff Essmann, "There is no better person to stand up for Montana Values at the Department of Interior than Secretary Ryan Zinke. He knows the challenges Montana and other western states face when it comes to responsibly developing natural resources to create high-paying jobs, ensuring that our public lands can be enjoyed by all, and, where necessary, conserving our land under the big sky for this and future generations. Secretary Zinke is just one part of President Trump's bold plans to 'Make America Great Again,' and I look forward to Secretary Zinke's term at the Interior. I know I speak for all Montanan's who are glad that some Montana common sense finally has a place in Washington, D.C.—Congratulations Secretary Zinke!"
From Montana Wilderness Association Executive Director Brian Sybert, "Secretary Zinke has called himself a Roosevelt conservationist on multiple occasions. We will certainly hold him accountable if he does not live up to that definition. In Montana, living up to that definition will mean keeping public lands in public hands, protecting places as wild and culturally significant as the Badger-Two Medicine, and not attempting to gut or harm the Antiquities Act, a central pillar of Roosevelt's legacy."
From Chris Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action, "On behalf of our 5 million members, the National Rifle Association congratulates Secretary Ryan Zinke on his confirmation as the 52nd Secretary of the Interior. The confirmation of an avid outdoorsman to lead the U.S. Department of the Interior marks the end of a hostile era towards hunters and sportsmen. The NRA looks forward to working with Secretary Zinke in the pursuit of true conservation that respects the rights of America’s outdoorsmen and women."
From Center for Western Priorities Executive Director Jennifer Rokala, “Ryan Zinke has said he wants to follow in the footsteps of Teddy Roosevelt, arguably our greatest conservation president. As Interior Secretary, he’ll have a chance to put those words to action. Starting on day one at the Interior Department we’ll see which Ryan Zinke shows up: the one who voted to grease the skids for selling our national public lands or the one with a backbone to stand up to some of Congress’ very worst instincts. Some in Congress are already asking Secretary Zinke and the Trump administration to eliminate one of our newest national monuments from the map. We’ll be watching closely to see whether Secretary Zinke lives up to the legacy of Teddy Roosevelt, or simply caters to campaign donors.”
From Business for Montana’s Outdoors Executive Director Marne Hayes, “We congratulate Ryan Zinke on this new opportunity to serve all Americans and wish him well as he takes on a critical role for our nation’s economy. Because our public lands are so critical to Montana jobs and our Montana way of life, we ask that Mr. Zinke fight tooth and nail to retain crucial public lands and water funding which are likely to be threatened by the President’s budget.”
From Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, “We encourage Secretary Zinke to simply solve problems constructively: Bring together diverse stakeholders, and find common ground for the benefit of fish, wildlife, and our sporting traditions. Sportsmen and women stand ready and willing to help shape a positive future for our public lands. We’re just asking that remaining concerns with the BLM Planning rule are addressed through a process that also keeps all of the improvements made to public lands management.”
From Trout Unlimited President and CEO Chris Wood, “For Trout Unlimited members and sportsmen and women across the country, there are few roles as important as Secretary of the Interior for ensuring responsible stewardship of these national treasures and our fishing and hunting heritage. From energy development and leasing on BLM lands, to regulation and reclamation of surface mining operations, to management and support of western water infrastructure and distribution networks, the Department of the Interior oversees lands and resources that will determine the future of our nation’s outdoor traditions. Only through careful management will we have robust populations of fish and wildlife and healthy places to hunt and fish for generations to come.”
From Jeremy Nichols, Climate and Energy Program Director for WildEarth Guardians, “Congressman Zinke is a fake and fraud. With Zinke’s nomination, President Trump made clear his goal of surrendering treasured American public lands to the oil, gas, and coal industries. The confirmation of Zinke should be a call to action for every American who values National Parks and public lands to stand up and resist this President’s agenda of putting the interests of fossil fuel companies before all of us Americans.”
From Earthjustice Vice President Drew Caputo, "Now that he has been confirmed to lead the Department of the Interior, we urge Secretary Zinke to respect the critical importance of these lands to the tribes and our country's heritage, and keep Bears Ears and other natural treasures intact for future generations. Anything short of that is an insult to tribes and shows profound disrespect for the Antiquities Act, which has protected this country's most cherished landscapes for more than 100 years. As long as he serves in this role, the people of the United States will look to Secretary Zinke to safeguard public lands, reject fossil fuel extraction that jeopardizes our climate, and protect imperiled wildlife. If he falls short of these responsibilities and puts our priceless natural heritage at risk, Earthjustice will hold him accountable."
From Matt Rosendale, Montana State Auditor, “Big congratulations to Ryan Zinke on being confirmed as our new Secretary of Interior. It’s great to have a fellow Montanan serving in the cabinet who understands the importance of improving access to our public lands.”
From State Superintendent Elsie Arntzen, “Congratulations to Ryan Zinke on becoming our nation’s next Interior Secretary. As Vice-Chair of the Montana Land Board, I look forward working with Secretary Zinke in his new capacity to put Montana students first. The Land Board is crucial to school funding and it will be very beneficial to have Montana leadership managing our public lands at the U.S. Department of the Interior.”
From Montana Senate President Scott Sales, R-Bozeman, “I congratulate Congressman Zinke and look forward to the leadership he will bring as Secretary to the Department of the Interior concerning the management of our lands here in the west. It is also good that the clock will start regarding the selection of his replacement in Congress. It is imperative that Montana's voice is heard in the U.S. House of Representatives.”
From Senate Majority Leader Fred Thomas, R-Stevensville: “This is truly one of the highlights of my political tenure. To see a Montana Congressman become the Secretary of the Interior is absolutely a tribute to Montana and its citizens!”