Zinke confirmation puts coal industry in control of Interior Department

Eric Shew News

As Congressman, Ryan Zinke pushed dead-end coal export proposals despite unprecedented local, tribal opposition

SEATTLE, WA – Today’s confirmation of Ryan Zinke to head President Trump’s Department of the Interior puts one of the most outspoken advocates of coal export proposals in control of 500 million acres of public land, including coal deposits and mines throughout the nation.

The U.S. Senate confirmed Administrator Zinke as Secretary of the Interior today. As Secretary of the Interior, Zinke will be in charge of public land management through agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management, the United States Geological Survey, and the National Park Service.

Zinke is a vocal advocate for West Coast coal export terminals despite local opposition and the declining international coal market. All but one proposal, Millennium Bulk Terminals in Longview, Washington, have been dropped by their coal company backers. Millennium was recently denied approval by the Washington Department of Natural Resources to build a coal dock, creating a major obstacle in their coal export plans. Zinke’s polluter-friendly tenure in Congress earned him a 4% lifetime score from the League of Conservation voters.

Members of the Power Past Coal coalition issued the following statements:

Regna Merritt, co-director of the Power Past Coal coalition:

“As a Congressman, Ryan Zinke pushed West Coast coal exports despite overwhelming public opposition and ample evidence that there was no market for dirty coal in a world that is turning away from fossil fuels. As Secretary of the Interior, he will find that nothing has changed – communities are saying ‘No Thanks’ to a dirty product that harms public health.”

Mark Fix, an eastern Montana rancher and a Past Chair of Northern Plains Resource Council, a conservation and family-agriculture group based in Billings, Montana:

“If Representative Zinke is to succeed as Secretary of the Interior, he will need to learn to represent the interests of all Americans, not just the fossil-fuel industry. As the top public custodian of our country’s natural resources and public lands, he will need to understand the value that Americans put on the fair and wise management of public lands and public resources.”

The Power Past Coal coalition opposes this confirmation and will continue to work to fight shortsighted coal export projects that harm Pacific Northwest communities and our global climate.