Wyoming Environmentalists Respond To Pick For Interior Secretary

Dec 12, 2016

Credit Lingjing Bao

Although there was hope among Wyomingites that Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis would be tapped by President elect Trump for Interior Secretary, it appears that position will go to Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rogers instead.

The position oversees public lands and wildlife management, critical issues to western states like Wyoming. Many environmental groups have expressed concern over the possible decision. Western Watersheds Project Executive Director Erik Molvar said the appointment would be a blow to efforts to protect natural resources since McMorris Rogers has a record of supporting legislation like federal land transfers and the de-listing of species.

“One of the most troublesome things that Ms. McMorris Rogers did was that she supported an effort to de-list the grey wolf nationwide,” said Molvar. “And, of course, in Washington and Oregon they have some very rare wolf populations that are in the very early stages of recovery.”

The proposal would have also allowed Wyoming to implement a wolf management plan that included hunting them as predators in much of the state.

Molvar said McMorris Rogers also has a track record of voting for expanded oil and gas drilling and transferring federal public land management to states.

“The Secretary of the Interior manages not just all Bureau of Land Management lands, but also National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges. So, if the Secretary of the Interior decided that it was going to be policy to sell off large chunks of federal lands, there certainly is plenty of authority to do that,” Molvar said.

McMorris Rogers also co-sponsored a bill to allow states to take over management of the greater sage grouse, and has voted against efforts to reduce the effects of climate change.

It's unknown when her appointment will be officially announced.