Interior nominee Zinke disputes Trump on climate change

19 January, 2017, 00:49 | Author: Celia Hoffman
  • Zinke arrives for a meeting at Trump Tower in New York

When pressed further by Sanders, the Whitefish High School graduate responded bluntly.

It's true that Zinke appears to be distancing himself from Trump's more outlandish positions on climate change, but we shouldn't let Trump's low bar on this issue be the means by which we measure his cabinet picks. Zinke espoused a balanced approach to public lands that he described as a destination for hiking and fishing as well as a source of timber and coal.

Zinke scored a paltry 3 percent on a League of Conservation Voters' ranking, meaning he has overwhelmingly voted against environmentalists during his time in office.

For example, while Rep. Zinke is on record opposing the outright sale of federal lands and supporting needed funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, his legislative record shows that he has repeatedly promoted increased logging, drilling, grazing and mining on federal lands throughout the country. If confirmed, Mr. Zinke would be in charge of hundreds of millions of acres of federal lands, all USA national parks, energy development on public lands, national monuments, and would be the chief government liaison with Native American tribes.

Later in the hearing, Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., Zinke was pressed to explain that January 3 vote and responded by downplaying its significance, saying “It has no weight unless its executed.

"The climate is changing, that's indisputable", Zinke said. He reiterated that if it were not packaged in with another resolution and stood alone he "would not vote for it".

"There is no disputing Congressman Simpson is a supporter of public lands", Nikki Wallace, a spokeswoman for Simpson, said in an email.

"I fully recognize and appreciate that there are lands that deserve special recognition and are better managed under the John Muir model of wilderness, where man has a light touch and is an observer", Zinke said. "The president elect has said that we want to be [energy] independent".

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He also said he was willing to revisit decisions by the Obama administration, including recent moves to halt coal leasing, ban oil and gas drilling in most of the Arctic and set aside parts of the West as national monuments under the Antiquities Act.

SEATED IN front of his wife, Lolita, and his daughter, Jennifer, and her family, Zinke delivered an opening statement that touched on his humble upbringing in Whitefish and stressed his affinity for President Teddy Roosevelt.

Zinke also pledged to tackle an estimated $12 billion backlog in maintenance and fix at national parks, saying parks and other public lands should be a key part of Trump's infrastructure improvement plan. Al Franken (D-Minn.) replied. Committee chairman Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., did not attend the hearing.

Throughout the hearing, Zinke questioned the science showing that climate change is driven by burning fossil fuels, that it could bring about water scarcity, influence the spread of catastrophic wildfire, and melt glaciers in the national parks he would oversee.

Zinke was quetioned on a number of issues. "As a military commander, the tolerance is zero".

IF THE Senate votes to confirm Zinke, he will have to vacate his House seat, triggering a statewide special election to replace him.

Montanas Democratic, Libertarian and Republican parties would each hold a nominating convention under their bylaws to select a candidate for the seat.

Zinke was introduced to the committee by the two senators from his state, Republican Sen. State District Judge Russell Fagg of Billings had also indicated he may run, but decided against it earlier this month.

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