The U.S. Senate has confirmed Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., as Secretary of the Interior with a 68-31 vote in favor today.
The margin is notable in that 16 Democrats and one independent joined the 51-member Republican majority in confirming President Donald Trump’s nomination.
Zinke, a one-term Congressman and self-described “Teddy Roosevelt Republican”, is now responsible for overseeing an agency that manages and conserves most of the country’s federal land and natural resources.
Zinke said in a Congressional hearing earlier this year that he believes in a multi-use philosophy for the 500 million acres of public land managed by Interior, meaning recreational functions like camping and hiking could take place alongside commercial interests including mining, drilling and woodcutting.
The representative has also indicated he might consider transferring some DOI land to the states, leaving some fearful that he could weaken the national parks, monuments and historic sites programs.
Most relevant to the hydropower sector is DOI’s authority over the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which manages close to 480 dams and 350 reservoirs.