Update (Tues. 12/13): Politico reports that President-elect Donald Trump has offered the Interior Secretary position to Montana freshman Rep. Ryan Zinke. He has not accepted the nomination yet.
Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers met with President-elect Donald Trump for the second time in recent weeks, as national media reports she’s Trump’s top pick for the Secretary of the Interior.
Her office has not confirmed nor commented directly on the reports, but Rep. McMorris Rodgers told NBC she walked away from the meeting reminded Trump is “a man of action.”
“His commitment to making America great, getting our economy going, you know, creating jobs and really rethinking these federal agencies. He wants them to work,” said the Congresswoman.
Reports of McMorris Rodgers as the Interior Secretary choice has drawn a mixed reaction from local environmental advocates and concern from progressive environmental groups.
“Hopefully she’ll represent the values of our state, and people in the state care about the environment. But, her record, so far, doesn’t show a good record in terms of public lands,” said Joan Crooks, CEO of Washington Conversation Voters.
McMorris Rodgers, the fourth-ranking Republican in the U.S. House, received a score of only 4% from the League of Conservation Voters, based on her congressional record. That includes her support of a proposal to sell certain federal lands, as well as a past vote to expand drilling off shore and on public lands.
“Increased oil drilling could mean more oil trains moving through our state,” cautioned Crooks. “That has big impacts on communities. There are safety concerns. I am also concerned about increased oil spills in Puget Sound. If we’re moving more oil across Puget Sound, our water is at risk.”
McMorris Rodgers has not commented specifically on her potential policy plans if named Interior Secretary. However, she’s said, “the 21st Century needs a bold and comprehensive energy plan that includes more of everything, including hydropower and energy research.”
“If we have high environmental standards, and we produce energy in the United States rather than get it from Russia or Saudi Arabia, that’s a good thing,” said Todd Myers, Environmental Director of the Washington Policy Center.
Myers praised the possibility of McMorris Rodgers as the next Interior Secretary.
“She understands that we can have healthy forests, working landscapes, good parks but that doesn’t always mean that nothing can go on out there. That you can work the forests, make them healthier, while at the same time make sure we leave a better environment for the future,” said Myers.
McMorris Rodgers, if selected, would replace another Washington native, former REI CEO Sally Jewell.
“If Cathy McMorris Rodgers can continue the trend that Sec. Jewell had that recognizing natural gas is a good transition and can reduce environmental impact and reduce carbon emissions, that will be a good thing,” Myers added.
“I don’t think we know what’s coming at us,” said Joan Crooks, who predicts increased environmental activism and more legal action to protect the environment.
“The next four years are going to be pretty intense. We are going to need to make sure our state is protected, that our air stays clean, and that our water is protected.”