Update: Despite multiple media reports that McMorris Rogers would be tapped for DOI, Politico reports on Dec. 13 that Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT), a former Navy SEAL and early Trump supporter, will be the President-elect's pick. Utility Dive's original post follows.
- President-elect Donald Trump intends to nominate a Washington state representative to head the Department of Interior, but his choice has drawn concern due to her support for oil and gas drilling, according to multiple media reports.
- Reuters reports U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) is a longtime skeptic of climate change, has opposed President Obama's environmental agenda and once mocked Al Gore's advocacy work.
- Trump's decision to nominate McMorris Rodgers to lead DOI follows word that he will appoint Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R) to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Environmental advocates have been alarmed by the pro-fossil fuel team the President-elect has thus far selected.
Donald Trump continues to frighten environmentalists and hearten energy companies, selecting two decidedly pro-oil and gas officials to lead key agencies.
Pruitt is an ardent critic of the EPA's power sector regulations and is one of the leaders of a lawsuit challenging federal carbon rules under the Clean Power Plan. The League of Conservation Voters gives McMorris Rodgers a 0% score on the environment. Politico reports she will likely undo many of the Obama administration's restrictions, including lifting the moratorium on new coal leases. Her stance on clean energy buildout is a little more ambiguous, although she has touted Oregon's biomass and hydropower capabilities.
U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) issued a statement expressing concern over the nomination.
"I have concerns with her history of support for auctioning off Western public lands—including more than 1250 square-miles in New Mexico—and allowing for the destruction of a site sacred to Apache nations across the southwest," Heinrich said.
On the other hand, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association welcomed the announcement and said electric cooperatives have a "terrific working relationship" with McMorris Rodgers.
“Electric cooperatives work closely with the Interior Department on a number of issues, including co-op land-use activities," said NRECA CEO Jim Matheson. "The Department plays a key role in balancing the need to protect the nation’s natural resources with co-ops’ ability to maintain reliable and affordable electric service. Once confirmed, we look forward to working with Rep. McMorris Rodgers to advance these crucial goals."