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President-elect Trump has nominated freshman Member of Congress Ryan Zinke of Montana to lead the Interior Department, the agency charged with governing most of our public lands and all federally owned minerals. Although Congressman Zinke has repeatedly stated his commitment to keeping public lands public, he recently joined House Republicans to vote for a rule that would make it easier to transfer federal public lands to states.

“We need a strong advocate who will stand up to mining and fracking companies to protect the communities, wilderness and wildlife that depend on the clean air and water provided by well-protected public lands,” said Lauren Pagel, Earthworks Policy Director. She continued, “Although we hope Ryan Zinke can be that person, his commitment to protecting public lands has fallen short when it comes to protecting those lands from the harmful effects of mining and fracking.”

Although he opposed destructive mines around Yellowstone National Park, Congressman Zinke has repeatedly voted in favor of corporate profits over the public interest. In his short tenure in Congress, Congressman Zinke has voted to sharply curtail the President’s authority to create National Monuments and against common-sense fracking regulations to protect our public lands. He has co-sponsored legislation to allow for natural gas pipelines to be routed under National Parks and Wildlife Refuges. And, he was co-sponsor of controversial legislation (H.R. 1937) that would severely limit public review of mining projects on public lands.

“Like Congressman Ryan Zinke, I too grew up swimming in Montana’s rivers and exploring our great outdoors, and I’ve seen the lasting damage that’s occurred from mining,” said Bonnie Gestring, Earthworks Northwest Circuit Rider. She continued, “I’m deeply concerned that the Congressman has cosponsored legislation that would limit the public’s ability to protect our valuable water, fish and wildlife from mine pollution.”