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US Senate Confirms Trump Pick Ryan Zinke as Interior Secretary

The Senate voted 68 to 31 Wednesday in favor of confirming Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke to head the Department of the Interior.

During his confirmation hearing, Zinke said he believes the climate is changing but suggested that the role that human activity has played is subject to debate.

"Congressman Zinke and I have had several discussions about forestry - especially about how to get the harvest up in a sustainable way, create jobs in rural America and protect our special places", Wyden said.

Zinke, who will lead a department that oversees 400 million acres of federal land, has anxious environmental advocates by appearing soft toward oil and gas companies. Also, the liberals are anxious that he would eventually open more land to exploitation, at the expense of wildlife and their constantly declining habitat.

Obama used the Antiquities Act of 1906 to make the national monument designations. State leaders and supporters of the oil and gas industry have vowed to work with the Trump administration in reversing the designation.

Zinke will oversee energy development on federal lands and the protection of endangered species, as well as the country's national parks.

Zinke earned a degree in geology from the University of OR in 1984 and joined the military two years later.

According to U.S. Sen.

Ryan Zinke testifies before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on January 17, 2017. While Democrats didn't delay Zinke's confirmation, the prolonged process for other nominees, including newly confirmed Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt, delayed Zinke from receiving a final vote earlier. As a one-term Congressman, Zinke worked to boost mining, including supporting an effort to end a coal leasing moratorium on federal lands.

"He knows we must strike this balance between conservation and responsible energy development", Senator Steve Daines, a Republican from Montana, said ahead of the vote Wednesday.

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