President-elect Donald Trump has nominated Rep. Ryan Zinke, a Republican from Montana, to the role of secretary of the interior. The nomination has been met with opposition by environmental protection groups.
Zinke is an ex-Navy SEAL commander, and currently serves on the House Armed Services and Natural Resources committees, CNN reports.
"Congressman Zinke is a strong advocate for American energy independence. And he supports an all-encompassing energy policy that includes renewable, fossil fuels and alternative energy," said Jason Miller, a spokesman for the Trump transition team. "Additionally, Congressman Zinke believes we need to find a way to cut through bureaucracy to ensure our nation's parks, forests and other public areas are properly maintained and used effectively."
The League of Conservation Voters, a group that rates politicians on their environmental record, gave Zinke a score of 3 percent -- an extremely low lifetime ranking, reports Reuters.
“You know, if you go up to Glacier Park and you have your lunch on one of the glaciers, you will see the glacier recede while you eat lunch,” Zinke told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle in 2015, reports Politico. “So you know I have seen the change in my lifetime ... So something's going on, and so I think you need to be prudent. It doesn't mean I think you need to be destructive on fossil fuels, but I think you need to be prudent and you need to invest in all-the-above energy.”
Montana is one of the six largest coal producing states in America. Trump spent much of his presidential campaign vowing to return coal jobs to the country.
After a recent meeting with the president-elect on Dec. 12, Zinke sounded optimistic about his home state’s prospects, reports CNN.
"President-elect Donald Trump and I had a very positive meeting where we discussed a wide range of Montana priorities," he said. "We are both very hopeful for the future."
Zinke was poised to be incumbent Democratic Sen. Jon Tester’s Republican challenger for the 2018 Senate elections. Zinke’s potential ascension to Trump’s Cabinet would all but secure Tester’s seat.