WASHINGTON, Dec. 9, 2016 - A House Republican leader who represents a wheat-growing district in eastern Washington is expected to be nominated as Interior secretary in the Trump administration.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who chairs the House Republican Conference, has been a reliable supporter of GOP efforts to expand fossil fuel production and to ease restrictions on use of federal lands. 

Multiple reports Friday said that she will be nominated by President-elect Donald Trump to lead the Interior Department, which includes the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation and National Park Service.

McMorris Rodgers, who grew up and worked on a family orchard, represents the 5th District of Washington, which stretches across the eastern border of the state and includes Spokane.

“Cathy has been a good friend of agriculture dating back to the family farm she grew up on” and has “helped push for moderation” from the EPA, Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service, said John Stuhlmiller, CEO of the Washington Farm Bureau. He said her staff had specifically helped producers on some Endangered Species Act issues, including on sage grouse and wolf protections.

“The bottom line with Cathy is she understands the unique pressures placed on natural resource based industries in the West, and I am confident she has the ability to lead the Department of the Interior in a good direction.”

McMorris Rodgers, who was first elected in 2004, has a lifetime rating of 4 percent with the League of Conservation Voters in supporting environmentalists’ positions on issues.

The group Environment America issued a statement saying it was “profoundly disappointed” with Trump’s apparent choice. “McMorris Rogers has consistently voted in favor of more drilling, clear-cutting and pollution and against protecting our most treasured places from the rugged Pacific coast to the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and from the Chesapeake Bay to the majestic forests of the West.”

Randi Spivak, public lands program director at the Center for Biological Diversity, which has been pushing the Fish and Wildlife Service to expand the number of species protected under the ESA, said that “corporate polluters will have free rein” under McMorris Rodgers.

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“Endangered wolves and salmon, wild rivers, whales and our climate will all lose under this long-time servant of the oil, gas and timber industries. Senators who care about America’s beautiful wild places and our planet’s future should fight like hell to block this outrageous nomination,” Spivak said.

Among McMorris Rodgers’ votes during the current Congress, she supported amendments that prevent gray wolves or the lesser prairie chicken from being listed under the Endangered Species Act. She also has supported measures to increase irrigation water supplies to farmers in California’s Central Valley, which many environmentalists oppose, and voted to bar new BLM restrictions on fracking.

A rare instance where she sided with environmentalists came on a 2014 vote to preserve a Defense Department initiative to replace petroleum-based fuels with biofuels.


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