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Trump presidency: Ex-Navy Seal Ryan Zinke tipped as interior secretary

US Representative at large from Montana Ryan ZinkeImage copyright
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Mr Zinke is a first-term Republican congressman from Montana

President-elect Donald Trump is reportedly tipped to name Congressman Ryan Zinke as US interior secretary.

The 55-year-old Montana Republican would oversee more than 20% of US federal land, including national parks such as Yellowstone, US media report.

Mr Zinke, a first-term lawmaker, was an early Trump supporter who endorsed the New York property mogul in May.

The former Navy SEAL would be the fourth military veteran to receive a post in Mr Trump’s cabinet.

Retired US Army three-star Lieutenant-General Michael Flynn is national security adviser, retired General James Mattis has been picked to lead the Defence Department and John Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general, was selected to run Homeland Security.

“Congressman Zinke is a strong advocate for American energy independence, and he supports an all-encompassing energy policy that includes renewables, fossil fuels and alternative energy,” Trump spokesman Jason Miller said on Monday.

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The president-elect’s son Donald Jr, an avid hunter who was in Montana last month, was involved with the appointment process for interior secretary, reports Politico.

As a member of the House of Representatives subcommittee on natural resources, Mr Zinke voted for legislation that would soften environmental protections on public land.

It is unclear if he supports opening up federal lands to more drilling and mining, which Mr Trump has pledged to do in his administration.

But Mr Zinke has bucked his party on the issue of privatisation or transfer of public lands to states, which he believes should remain under federal control.

He resigned as a delegate to the Republican nominating convention in July after the party platform called for giving states control over federal lands.

Public land makes up more than 30% of Montana, according to the Montana Wilderness Association.

Mr Zinke shares that sentiment with the president-elect, who also said he thinks the government should retain ownership of public lands.

The Interior Department, which employs more than 70,000 people, also manages the Bureau of Indian Affairs and tribal policy.

The department assisted in President Barack Obama’s push to tackle climate change by curbing fossil fuel development in some areas.