Ryan Zinke confirmed as Interior secretary

Washington (AP) – The Senate has confirmed Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke as Interior secretary, responsible for more than 400 million acres of public land, mostly in the West.

The Republican-controlled Senate approved Zinke’s nomination on Wednesday, 68-31.

Zinke, a Republican in his second term as Montana’s sole House member, advocates a multiple-use model for federal land management that allows hiking, hunting, fishing and camping along with harvesting timber, mining for coal and drilling for oil and natural gas.

Zinke also pledges to tackle an estimated $12 billion backlog in maintenance and repair at national parks and stand firm against attempts to sell, give away or transfer federal lands.

The 55-year-old is a former Navy SEAL and Montana state senator. He is expected to be sworn in later Wednesday.

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