(Adds details on Zinke, background)
WASHINGTON Dec 15 U.S. President-elect Donald
Trump on Thursday formally announced that Montana Congressman
Ryan Zinke, a former Navy SEAL commander and a proponent of coal
development on federal lands, as his choice for secretary of the
If the Senate confirms Zinke, he will head the Interior
Department, which employs more than 70,000 people across the
country and oversees more than 20 percent of federal land,
including national parks like Yellowstone and Yosemite.
As a single-term Republican U.S. Representative, Zinke took
several stances favoring coal, a fossil fuel that suffered
during the administration of President Barack Obama as use of
natural gas and renewable energy soared.
Zinke, 55, pushed to end a moratorium on federal coal leases
on public lands by 2019, saying it had resulted in closed mines
and job cuts.
He also helped introduce a bill expanding tax credits for
coal-burning power plants that bury carbon dioxide emissions
underground to fight climate change, a measure supported by coal
interests and some moderate environmental groups. In introducing
the bill, Zinke said he wanted to keep "coal, oil and gas
communities viable for generations to come."
Zinke would replace Sally Jewell, who in January put a
temporary ban on coal mining on public lands, canceled leases
for drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic coasts, expanded
wildlife protections and cracked down on methane emissions from
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner, Valerie Volcovici, Eric Walsh
and Susan Heavey; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)