From the Congressional Record Online through GPO
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will
proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the following
nomination, which the clerk will report.
The senior assistant legislative clerk read the nomination of Ryan
Zinke, of Montana, to be Secretary of the Interior.
Under the previous order, there will now be 20 minutes of debate,
The Senator from Montana.
Mr. DAINES. Mr. President, what a historic day for Montana. As a
fellow Montanan, as a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and
Natural Resources and Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior,
Environment, and Related Agencies, I look forward to working with Ryan
Zinke in his new role as the Secretary of the Interior.
Serving at the helm of the Department of the Interior, I know he will
be a strong advocate for our public lands. He will uphold the Federal
trust responsibility to Indian tribes, and he will help unleash
American energy and will strengthen our water infrastructure.
I have heard all week some friends on the other side of the aisle
speak against my good friend from Montana, Ryan Zinke. I can tell you,
I am perplexed. They are concerned that Ryan Zinke may not uphold the
important roles of the Department of Interior--and that is to protect
the public interests in land and mineral management--that he will take
shortcuts to extract minerals. Let me tell you what Ryan Zinke will do,
and I have known Ryan Zinke for 38 years. He will finally restore
balance to the use and management of Federal land.
Do you know that in Montana we have more recoverable coal than any
State in the United States? Yet the Obama administration had planned to
block our ability, Montana's ability, to develop these resources. A
moratorium is not a responsible policy. It is reckless. It is
misguided, leaving the States and the tribes to be reliant on mineral
royalties, to lose out on these revenues, and lose out on the good-
paying jobs that coal supports. Ryan Zinke will take a fresh look at
our coal programs and see how we can access these untapped resources in
an environmentally responsible way.
Let me remind my colleagues that Ryan Zinke was born and raised in
Montana. It is a State where we like to say we get to work where we
also like to play. He will restore that balance to the Department so
Montanans can gain better access to our public lands.
He will also ensure our public lands work for those who live closest
to them, and that means our States and our tribes. Ryan is a Montanan.
He grew up in America's public lands. He grew up in the shadows of
Glacier National Park. I grew up in the shadows of Yellowstone National
Park. He knows we must strike this balance between conservation and
responsible energy development, and he understands better than anybody
I know that one-size-fits-all policies of Washington, DC, never work
for real America.
I look forward to voting for my friend, my colleague, a Navy SEAL for
23 years, and our next Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke.
Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, I will vote against confirming
Representative Ryan Zinke as Secretary of the Interior, and I would
like to take this opportunity to explain why. To put the matter
succinctly, Representative Zinke--if he is confirmed--will be charged
with implementing the Trump administration's “energy independence
plan,” which includes maximizing energy production on Federal lands,
including the outer continental shelf,
OCS. I oppose oil and gas drilling off the coast of Maryland and the
entrance to the Chesapeake Bay. There is too little to gain and too
much to lose.
Last November, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, BOEM, wisely
did not include any parcels in the Atlantic in the 2017 to 2022 plan to
lease offshore land the Federal Government controls. In December, then-
President Obama used his authority under section 12(a) of the 1953
Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act of 1953 to withdraw unleased OCS
lands from future lease sales, too.
This makes sense. According to BOEM, the entire Atlantic OCS, from
Maine all the way to Florida, has 1.15 billion barrels of
“undiscovered technically recoverable” oil and 12.80 trillion cubic
feet of “undiscovered technically recoverable” natural gas. These
sums sound large, but let's put them in context. The Gulf of Mexico OCS
has more than 40 times as much oil and 10 times as much natural gas.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Geological Survey, USGS, recently determined that
the midland basin of the Wolfcamp Shale area in the Permian Basin has
20 billion barrels of oil and the natural gas equivalent of another 1.6
billion barrels. The oilfield stretches over 118 miles from Lubbock to
Midland. It is the largest “continuous oil” discovery in the United
States, according to the USGS, three times larger than the assessment
of the oil in the mammoth Bakken formation in North Dakota.
It doesn't make any sense to jeopardize the marine life and the
fishing and tourism industries along the Maryland coast and Chesapeake
Bay when there is so much more oil and gas in other parts of the
Deepwater Horizon was a state-of-the-art rig, but it failed, causing
the largest oil spill in U.S. waters. Eleven crewman were killed. An
oil spill entering the Chesapeake Bay would be a disaster.
An even bigger threat to Maryland and other coastal States is climate
change and rising sea levels. We need to accelerate our transition from
fossil fuels, not our dependence on them. Two years ago, Oceana
concluded that modest levels of offshore wind development over the next
20 years could produce about twice the amount of energy along coastal
Atlantic States as offshore drillings and create more than 1.5 times
the number of jobs.
There is no provision in the 1953 law that permits President Trump to
reverse the Obama administration's section 12(a) OCS withdrawals, but
he is determined to try. When Representative Zinke was first asked
about lifting the moratoria, he responded, “If I am confirmed, I will
work to implement President-elect Trump's policy.”
That is the problem right there.
I appreciate Representative Zinke's honorable service to our country,
both in uniform as a Navy SEAL and as an elected official in the
Montana State Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. He has
called himself a “Theodore Roosevelt conservationist” and supports a
permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
It is possible Representative Zinke will try to resist the
Republicans' zeal for transferring ownership of precious public lands
from the Federal Government, although he supported a House rule change
at the beginning of this Congress to make it easier. Representative
Zinke is an avid sportsman who appears to appreciate the unique role
the Federal Government has in managing these resources for multiple
uses--not just energy production--and preserving them for future
While these are all positive factors, I am troubled that
Representative Zinke has received a 3 percent rating from the League of
Conservation Voters. He has vacillated on the issue of climate change:
in 2010, he was one of nearly 1,200 State legislators who signed a
letter to President Obama and Congress calling for “comprehensive
clean energy jobs and climate change legislation.” Since then,
however, he has repeatedly expressed doubt about anthropogenic climate
change. In an October 2014 debate, Representative Zinke stated: “it's
not a hoax, but it's not proven science either.” During his
confirmation hearing, Representative Zinke said that humans
“influence” climate change, but did not acknowledge the scientific
consensus that human activity is a dominant cause of climate change. He
also supports using the Congressional Review Act to overturn rules
agencies have spent months and even years to develop.
For all of these reasons, but particularly out of concern for the
Chesapeake Bay and Maryland's beautiful shoreline and coastal
communities, I will vote against confirming Representive Zinke as
Secretary of the Interior.
Mr. VAN HOLLEN. Mr. President, I oppose the nomination of
Representative Ryan Zinke to be Secretary of the Interior.
The Department of the 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. Preventing methane leakage on
public lands stops waste of resources and pollution from a potent
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
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 the 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 the
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.
Mr. DAINES. I yield back the time on both sides.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
The question is, Will the Senate advise and consent to the Zinke
Mr. DAINES. Mr. President, I ask for the yeas and nays.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
There appears to be a sufficient second.
The clerk will call the roll.
The senior assistant legislative clerk called the roll.
Mr. CORNYN. The following Senator is necessarily absent: The Senator
from Georgia (Mr. Isakson).
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Sullivan). Are there any other Senators in
the Chamber desiring to vote?
The result was announced--yeas 68, nays 31, as follows:
[Rollcall Vote No. 75 Ex.]
The nomination was confirmed.
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I move to reconsider the vote on the
nomination, and I move to table the motion to reconsider.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The question is on agreeing to the motion to
The motion was agreed to.