Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said with President Donald Trump at the helm, the United States will lead the way in energy independence.
“As our nation stands today, we are at an energy crossroads,” Zinke, a former congressman from Montana, said Friday at an event at The Heritage Foundation, adding:
There are two visions for our future in energy. One side believes that we should retreat into a fortress of regulation and red tape, where foreign nations take the lead as America drowns itself in process and procedure.
This is not the vision of President Trump. Going forward, our participation in the global energy market will protect and defend American sovereignty and not surrender it.
Part of making America lead the way in energy independence is decreasing regulation, Zinke said.
— Heritage Foundation (@Heritage) September 29, 2017
“We have a responsibility to be fair and transparent with our job-creating energy sector, but that is not how our government has operated in the last eight years,” Zinke said. “Permitting applications often sat on the desk of regulators in Washington for months and months and in some cases, years. Meanwhile, local economies suffered … delayed jobs and American energy promised to bring.”
The secretary explained how the oversight of a stream can get bogged down with various government entities.
If you have a trout and a salmon in the same stream, and upstream or have a dam or a lock and downstream the waters are used for irrigation while the salmon are managed by … the Department of Commerce, the trout is managed by Fish and Wildlife through Interior, upstream the dam water-flows and temperature is managed by our friends at the Army Corps of Engineers, and downstream irrigation is managed and controlled by Bureau of Reclamation.
The solution to this problem, Zinke said, is for governmental employees to work more closely together.
“Our government needs to learn how to work together, the bureaus at the Interior and our brothers and sisters in the other agencies need to learn to work for better and be responsive to the people we serve, and that is America,” Zinke said. “This is how we fight fires out in the West, and this is how the military operates, so it is nothing new.”
Collaboration on this level is important, Zinke said, to protect the nation’s environment, national security, and American prosperity and jobs.
— Secretary Ryan Zinke (@SecretaryZinke) September 29, 2017
Zinke said an example of the importance of change under Trump’s administration can be seen in West Virginia.
“One of the hardest places hit in the last administration was in West Virginia,” Zinke said. “Eight months ago, West Virginians had lost hope. Mines were closing and jobs were being ripped away.”
To combat this environment, Zinke said one of his first orders of business as interior secretary was to “reverse the ban on coal.”
“The Trump administration has offered more … onshore oil and gas leases in the first six months of 2017 than the previous administration did in all of 2016 … and are pleased to say that in the Gulf of Mexico, we are going to announce, oil and gas leases will be greatly expanded,” Zinke said.
The administration is also looking to expand drilling in Alaska, the nation’s last frontier.
“Under previous administrations, 94 percent of our offshore was made off-limits, and this includes our resources in the great state of Alaska,” adding:
Under President Trump’s leadership, we have issued a five-year plan to open up more areas for gas exploration and development. And the road to energy dominance goes through the great state of Alaska.
Zinke said he thinks the future is bright for the nation’s road to energy independence.
“We are probably going to be this year No. 1 in oil and gas, and next year we will likely be a next exporter in liquid natural gas,” Zinke said. “And that is the first time in 60 years. And our nation will continue to increase market share and we have a great opportunity to fuel the world.”
Zinke was nominated by Trump in December to be secretary of Interior Department, which oversees federal lands and Native American tribal policies, which includes drilling and mining on federal lands.