Thursday, December 15, 2016

With news of Zinke's Interior nomination now official, here's a look at the reactions from across Montana this week

Posted By on Thu, Dec 15, 2016 at 10:44 AM

Ryan Zinke and his wife, Lola, looked quite dapper heading into Trump Tower Monday morning. The photo, which showed Montana’s sole Congressman carrying three copies of his new book “American Commander,” got tongues wagging across the state. What was Zinke up to? Where would he likely fit in a Trump cabinet? By Tuesday afternoon, national news outlets including Politico were quoting unnamed sources within the Trump transition team saying Zinke had been nominated as Secretary of the Interior. Wednesday slipped past with no formal announcement or confirmation of the appointment. Zinke’s team went dark. Then, on Thursday morning, Donald Trump made things official.
click to enlarge PHOTO BY ALEX SAKARIASSEN
  • Photo by Alex Sakariassen

“He has built one of the strongest track records on championing regulatory relief, forest management, responsible energy development and public land issues,” Trump said of Zinke in a statement. “As a former Navy SEAL, he has incredible leadership skills and an attitude of doing whatever it takes to win. America is the most beautiful country in the world and he is going to help keep it that way with smart management of our federal lands.”

According to Politico, Zinke’s response was released by the transition team itself.

“As inscribed in the stone archway of Yellowstone National Park in Gardiner, Montana, I shall faithfully uphold Teddy Roosevelt's belief that our treasured public lands are ‘for the benefit and enjoyment of the people. I will work tirelessly to ensure our public lands are managed and preserved in a way that benefits everyone for generations to come. Most important, our sovereign Indian Nations and territories must have the respect and freedom they deserve.”

Even before Trump confirmed the news, congratulatory messages were pouring in from all corners of Montana, as were the expressions of cautious optimism and straight-up outrage. To keep you informed or simply amused, here’s a docket of the reactions that piled up in the Indy’s inbox this week:

From Sen. Jon Tester:
I want to congratulate Congressman Zinke on this high honor. I'm pleased the President-elect nominated someone from the west for a post that's critically important to Montana's outdoor economy and way of life. I look forward to sitting down with Congressman Zinke to discuss how we can increase public access to public land, protect our Constitutional right to clean air and water, and uphold our trust responsibilities to Indian Country.

From Sen. Steve Daines:
Ryan Zinke protected us abroad and in combat and I know he will do the same for our treasured public lands as Secretary of the Interior. In Congress, I’ve seen Ryan stand up and fight to protect our way of life. As a westerner, Ryan understands the challenges of having the federal government as your largest neighbor and I couldn't think of a better fit for Secretary of the Interior.

From Gov. Steve Bullock:
I want to congratulate Congressman Ryan Zinke. Montanans know how important the U.S. Department of Interior is to protecting our natural resources and outdoor heritage and it is reassuring that a Western voice is being advanced for a post that is critical for Western states. As Governor and Chair of the Western Governors Association, I look forward to ensuring that our states' interests are reflected in Washington, D.C.—from our public lands to national parks and natural resource development, among other areas.​

From the Montana Democratic Party Executive Director Nancy Keenan:
Congressman Zinke has a tremendous responsibility ahead of him in protecting access to our public lands and clean water, and serving Indian Country. But it is important to remember less than 40 days ago, he asked Montana voters to re-hire him to be our voice in the U.S. House. Yet again, his personal ambitions have trumped Montanans decision and voice. We wish him well and will continue to hold all leaders accountable to Montana values. Congressman Zinke is no exception.

From the Montana Republican Party Chairman Jeff Essmann:
Ryan Zinke has always answered the call of duty. His courage, leadership, and selfless sacrifice are needed now more than ever by our country. Montana’s loss is our nation’s gain. President-elect Donald J. Trump ran his campaign on the promise to bring better paying jobs back to this country. Our natural resources – our coal, oil and natural gas, and minerals – can play a role in restoring the economic health of our nation and provide good-paying jobs to Montanans and Americans. We look forward to Ryan Zinke working in the Trump administration to put these resources to work to Make America Great Again.

From the headquarters of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes:
The Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes wish to congratulate Congressman Zinke for being the first Montanan to be nominated for a Cabinet position since the Nixon Administration. Congressman Zinke will ably serve Indian Country, Montana and the nation as Secretary of Interior. Congressman Zinke’s efforts over the last two years to secure the ratification of the Blackfeet Water Rights Settlement demonstrates his understanding of issues important to Montana. His personal focus on local control and less Washington bureaucracy is consistent with tribal self-governance and we look forward to working with him on common goals. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes congratulate our friend and neighbor to be nominated for the Cabinet position of Secretary of Interior.

From Blackfeet Tribal Chairman Harry Barnes:
This is a great day for Montana with the selection of Representative Ryan Zinke as Secretary of the Interior. Rep. Zinke has worked steadfast on the Blackfeet Water Compact, which after over 30 years, was finally passed through Congress and we now await President Obama’s signature. The Blackfeet and other Montana Tribes will have an ear in the Department of Interior, which oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs and has direct effect on the tribes. We have worked with outgoing Secretary Jewell and look forward to having the same great working relationship with Secretary-Designate Zinke. Congratulations to Congressman Zinke!

From Montana Wilderness Association Executive Director Brian Sybert:
Should he be appointed secretary of Interior, we expect Rep. Ryan Zinke to carry Montana's values into that role. That means protecting access to public lands, ensuring our forests and prairies are indeed managed for multiple use and not just resource extraction, and respecting that wild places and public lands are core American values that he'll need to protect for all citizens. Rep. Zinke has a checkered record when it comes to public lands, including a vote for developing wilderness areas, but has taken a few good votes against lands transfer and for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Rep. Zinke has called himself a Roosevelt conservationist, and we will hold him to everything that definition entails.

From Beth Kaeding, former chair of the Northern Plains Resource Council:
Congressman Zinke has worked to shortchange the public on our federal mineral leases and royalties, so it is appointment that concerns us. We have joined with thousands across the West to close loopholes for coal companies exporting coal to China and Pacific Rim countries, and he has resisted those reforms to end corporate welfare at the expense of local, state and tribal coffers … He also opposes common-sense efforts to limit the ability of oil and gas companies to intentionally waste taxpayer-owned gas by flaring from oil wells on public lands.

From Montana Conservation Voters spokesman Dave Tyler:
With the nomination of Congressman Ryan Zinke to be the nation’s Secretary of Interior, President-elect Trump has elevated a person whose record just simply doesn’t match with the profound need to protect our nation’s clean air, water, and public lands. When it comes to energy development, Zinke’s record is one that has too often put the interests of mining companies and corporate interests ahead of Montana’s values, supporting policies that jeopardize our world class wildlife and clean water resources. He has not acknowledged the imperative to act on the danger to our land and water caused by climate change, threatening our farmers, ranchers, hunters, anglers, and the most vulnerable Americans. However, on public lands and the Land and Water Conservation Fund, Congressman Zinke now has a chance to deliver on the promises that he has made on the campaign trail and in the media—we hope that he will stand up for protecting our American public lands and outdoor heritage, now and for future generations. Montanans will be diligently watching for Zinke to answer the hard questions about how he will act to protect our national parks, wildlife, and water through his confirmation hearings.

From Backcountry Hunters and Anglers President and CEO Land Tawney:
Congressman Zinke understands the importance of public lands and balancing management of these important resources with energy development and other uses. As Montana’s lone representative in the House of Representatives, Mr. Zinke has showed himself to be receptive to the interests of a wide range of constituents and a potential ally of sportsmen and other outdoor recreationists … Charged with administering significant federal lands and natural resources, the Interior secretary is possibly the most powerful individual in the country when it comes to the future of our cherished public lands and waters, fish and wildlife and outdoor traditions … We’re gratified that the Trump administration is listening to our concerns and showing a willingness to act in the best interests of the American people and our irreplaceable public lands legacy.

From Matthew Koehler, director of the WildWest Institute:
Rep Ryan Zinke has an established track record of being pro-coal, pro-fracking, pro-logging, anti-science and anti-endangered species act when it comes to managing America’s public lands and wildlife. This has earned Zinke an environmental voting record of 3% from the League of Conservation Voters and a National Parks voting record of just 9% from the National Parks Conservation Association. Let’s also not forget that Rep Zinke was just hand picked by President-elect Donald Trump, someone who is clearly assembling the most anti-environmental, anti-public lands, pro-oil and gas and pro-wall street cabinet and administration in U.S. History. To think that Congressman Ryan Zinke is going to be a strong advocate for America’s public lands, our national parks and fish and wildlife species—and not just do the bidding of his boss, Donald Trump and campaign contributors in the resource extraction industry—is simply delusional, and not being honest with the American public. Simply because someone has stated that they would not sell-off, or give away, America’s public lands, does not in any way make that person a huge public lands champion, or a "Teddy Roosevelt Republican" especially when the voting record clearly exposes the truth.

From Drew Caputo, vice president of lands, oceans and wildlife for EarthJustice:
We applaud Ryan Zinke’s strong stand against selling off public lands and his support for clean energy. The rest of his voting record in Congress, though, has been awful for the environment. In 2015, while supporting clean energy, Congressman Zinke voted against the environment on every other major vote. He has supported measures to increase production of dirty and climate-heating fossil fuels, reduce or eliminate public involvement in management of public lands, and eliminate protections for endangered species. To be effective, an Interior Secretary needs to stand up for America’s public lands and wildlife and against business interests like the oil and gas industry that want to abuse our priceless public resources for private gain. We hope Congressman Zinke is ready to do that and look forward to working with him if he is. If not, Earthjustice and its attorneys will be very active in court to ensure he and the new Administration follow the law and protect America’s priceless wild lands and wildlife.

From Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall:
We are pleased to see a hunter and conservationist nominated to the top public lands position and look forward to working with Rep. Zinke on issues of critical importance to conservation.

From Democratic National Committee Communications Director Adam Hodge:
Ryan Zinke’s nomination is nothing short of an insult to the agency responsible for managing the Nation's natural resources and cultural heritage, providing scientific and other information about those resources; and honoring special commitments to American Indians, Alaska Natives, and affiliated island communities. Like many of Trump’s other nominees, he is a climate change denier and he holds a pathetic 3% lifetime rating from the League of Conservation Voters. He was caught on camera labeling some of the Indian Reservations he represents in Montana as a prime example of “dependence on government.” And he supports transferring federal land management to local governments that have fewer resources to do so effectively ... President Obama has a remarkable record of protecting our precious natural resources for future generations. He’s protected more public land and water than any president in our country’s history, designated national parks and monuments such as Stonewall, and fulfilled our commitment to American Indians and Alaska Natives. In nominating Ryan Zinke, Donald Trump has once again confirmed that he wants roll back all of our progress on behalf of his son and big oil and gas lobbyists. He should not be confirmed.

From Chris W. Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action:
On behalf of our 5 million members, we commend President-Elect Donald Trump for nominating Congressman Ryan Zinke of Montana to be our next Secretary of the Interior. The sportsmen and women of this nation have long waited for an Interior Secretary who understands the need to preserve America’s outdoor heritage for generations to come. Ryan Zinke will champion those traditions with the devotion of a true outdoorsman while serving as our next Secretary of the Interior.

Updated at 10:24 a.m. Friday, Dec. 16
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