The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
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Ryan Zinke, Foe of Endangered Species, Climate, Confirmed as Interior Secretary

16 Democrats Side With Republicans Despite Zinke's Dismal Voting Record


The U.S. Senate today confirmed Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) as the next interior secretary, placing him in charge of protecting more than 1,500 endangered species, managing 500 million acres of public lands and overseeing much of the country's oil, gas and coal reserves.

"Ryan Zinke has no business being secretary of the interior," said Kieran Suckling, the Center for Biological Diversity's executive director. "His voting record shows he couldn't care less about our wildlife, climate or public lands. Senators just let Trump install another friend of the fossil fuel industry in an office that's supposed to safeguard the environmental interests of all Americans."

During his two years in Congress, Zinke earned just a 3 percent rating from the League of Conservation Voters and voted against protections for endangered species 100 percent of the time, including opposing safeguards for the African elephant, gray wolf, sage grouse and American burying beetle.

Zinke has repeatedly voted to place the interests of fossil fuels above all else when it comes to the management of public lands. He taken major donations from the petroleum industry, including almost $50,000 from one oil company. Zinke also introduced legislation that undermines the ability of ordinary citizens to have their voices heard in decisions about how to protect America's natural heritage.

In February, 170 environmental organizations sent a letter to the Senate opposing Zinke's confirmation. The final vote was 68 to 31, with 16 Democrats voting in favor of confirming Zinke.

"If Democrats want to know why their base is frustrated, this shameful vote is a good illustration of how out of touch some senators are," said Suckling. "If the Senate won't do its job in providing a meaningful check and balance on Trump and Zinke, then we will step up and fill that gap. Expect us to watch Zinke like a hawk and fight his every effort to tear our public lands apart."

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive.

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