On Wednesday, March 1, Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke was confirmed as the 52nd secretary of the interior. The Senate voted 68-31 to confirm Zinke, and he was sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence at a ceremony in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building later that evening.
“I am honored and humbled to serve Montana and America as secretary of the interior,” Zinke said. “I shall faithfully uphold Teddy Roosevelt’s belief that our treasured public lands are ‘for the benefit and enjoyment of the people’ and will work tirelessly to ensure our public lands are managed and preserved in a way that benefits all Americans for generations to come.
“This means responsible natural resource development, increased access for recreation and sportsmen, and conservation that makes the land more valuable for our children’s children. Importantly, our sovereign Indian nations and territories must have the respect and freedom they deserve.”
In nominating Zinke, President Donald Trump said, “Ryan has built one of the strongest track records on championing regulatory relief, forest management, responsible energy development and public land issues in Congress. 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.”
Zinke pledged to work with Trump and Congress to reevaluate and fix regulations “that are barriers to job creation.”
Zinke is a fifth-generation Montanan who grew up near Glacier National Park. He has led efforts to renew the Land and Water Conservation Fund in Congress, and has also been a firm advocate for sportsmen and women to gain access to public lands. Zinke also co-authored the 2015 Resilient Federal Forest Act, which initiated reforms for revitalizing America’s timber areas and preventing wildfires by emphasizing local collaboration on responsible timber harvest projects.
He has been in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2014, and before that served in the Montana State Senate from 2009 to 2011. He was also a U.S. Navy SEAL officer for 23 years. He retired with the rank of commander. Zinke was the first Navy SEAL elected to the U.S. House and is the first to serve as a cabinet secretary.