Monday, January 02, 2017

A Trump pick who says this land is your land


...But for those who still embrace the goals of the Sagebrush Rebellion, a loose coalition of ranchers, miners, drillers, hunters, off-road enthusiasts, libertarians and anti-government die-hards, Zinke is a heretic. The reason is that he is an unshakable foe of selling federal lands or transferring them to the states. Repeatedly, Zinke has joined Democrats in opposing legislation that would require the department he has been named to head to shed its vast real-estate holdings. In July 2015, he voted for an amendment to block funding of “extra legal ways to transfer federal lands to private owners.” Earlier in the year he voted against a Republican-sponsored budget resolution that would have set up a fund to do the same thing. As Zinke, 55, explained it at the time, he grew up hunting and fishing in Montana and sees the value in making sure that what’s public stays public. This year he voted to block the sale of a couple of million acres of federal forest land for logging. Zinke has been so at odds with his party on this point that he resigned from the committee that drafted the Republican Party convention platform because, as usual, it included a passage about selling some of the 640 million acres owned by the federal government. Zinke was personally vetted for the Interior post by Donald Trump Jr., an avid hunter and angler. The confounding thing about the argument for transferring federal land to the states or selling it to private owners is that those who make it might have the most to lose...more

I address the Zinke nomination in my most recent column, which should be available in the next few days.

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