U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen submitted the following statement to the congressional record on the vote to confirm Rep. Ryan Zinke as Secretary of Interior:
“Mr. President, I oppose the nomination of Representative Ryan Zinke to be Secretary of Interior.
“The Department of Interior is charged with judicious management of our Nation’s public lands. It is responsible for balancing conservation, recreation, and development to ensure that Americans get the best use and best value from our collective natural resources.
“President Teddy Roosevelt, one of the greatest stewards of our public lands, once said:
‘I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us.’
“The Obama Administration took important steps to protect our resources and provide best value to taxpayers. Taking Atlantic Ocean drilling off the table protects our coastal areas and the vital tourism industry up and down the Eastern Shore, including Ocean City. Modernizing the coal leasing process ensures that taxpayers get proper payment for use of common resources. And preventing methane leakage on public lands stops waste of resources and pollution from a potent greenhouse gas.
“Representative Zinke’s history in Congress casts doubt on his commitment to these important initiatives. He has a mere 3 percent lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters and an “F” grade from the National Parks Action Fund. I appreciate that he has spoken in opposition to the sale or transfer of public lands to states, but I am deeply concerned about his vote in January in the House of Representatives for a rule change that would make sales and transfers much easier.
“As the Sierra Club has said:
'Rather than dedicating himself to the preservation of our public lands, Representative Zinke has repeatedly sided with those who would dismantle, degrade, or dispose of them. Mining, drilling, logging, and dirty energy interests have been placed time and again before the public interest.'
“In an op-ed opposing a Department of Interior rule to update coal leasing to get better value for American taxpayers, Representative Zinke said that the Obama Administration was “fighting a more aggressive war against American coal than they are against ISIS.” This kind of hyperbole does not bode well for Representative Zinke’s ability to represent American taxpayers or promote conservation as Secretary of the Interior, should he be confirmed.
“In his nomination hearing, Representative Zinke pledged to support Federal public lands, permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and address the National Parks maintenance backlog. These are important promises from any nominee for the Department of Interior. Unfortunately, Representative Zinke’s voting record does not give me confidence in his commitment to fulfill them, and therefore I must vote against his nomination today. I am proud to be a Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, and if he is confirmed, I look forward to working with him to protect our public lands and ensure that American taxpayers get a fair deal for our common resources.”