Interior secretary Ryan Zinke rides a horse to work

Rep. Ryan Zinke, seen here testifying on Capitol Hill on January 17, was confirmed as the new Secretary of the Interior in a 68-31 vote Wednesday.

Zinke, a Republican congressman from Montana, was confirmed in a 68-31 vote, becoming one of a few of Trump's cabinet nominees to receive support from a significant number of Democratic senators, who said they liked his stated commitment to conservation.

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U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, praised Zinke ahead of Monday's initial vote for his willingness to break with his party and oppose large-scale sales of federal lands. He is expected to be sworn in later Wednesday. "We applaud Secretary Zinke on his confirmation as the next Interior Secretary and we look forward to working with he and his agency team in the years to come".

As the new Secretary of the Interior, Zinke will be in charge of overseeing federal lands, offshore drilling, and relations with American Indian tribes. Anne Hedges, deputy director of the Montana Environmental Information Center, says she believes Zinke does value public lands, but that it's still not clear what steps he will take as Interior Secretary.

Zinke accepted an invitation from the Park Police to "stand should-to-shoulder with their officers on his first day at Interior, the eve of the Department's anniversary", Interior spokeswoman Heather Swift said.

Rep. Zinke, an avid sportsman, is devoted to protecting and ensuring our public lands will be available and accessible to future generations. "We are really looking forward to working with him and his team to advance the outdoor recreation sector, grow jobs in the USA and ensure that all Americans have access to healthy, active outdoor fun on their public lands and waters".

"Ryan Zinke will bring much-needed balance to the management of our nation's land and natural resources".

He has pushed to expand logging, drilling and coal mining on public lands and supports a recall on the Obama administration's federal coal mining moratorium.

"You can't be a Roosevelt Conservationist, when you vote to make it easier to sell off public lands", Schumer said.

The transportation choice aligns with Zinke's choice to brand himself as a conservative and conservationist in the mold of President Teddy Roosevelt, a strong advocate for outdoor recreation who established numerous national parks.

  • Zachary Reyes