Local rancher shares conservation concerns in Zinke leadership - KULR8.com | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Local rancher shares conservation concerns in Zinke leadership

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As Congressman Ryan Zinke shares his goals before the U.S. Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, one local conservationist and Montana rancher worries Zinke's priorities as the potential Secretary of the Interior may actually be harmful to our state and its taxpayers.

Mark Fix is a longtime member and former chair of the Northern Plains Resource Council, but he's also got his hands in the dirt as a rancher in rural Montana.

"I have BLM land, state land, private land, and there's lot of minerals under that land," Fix said.

Fix also knows a thing or two about how coal operations affect neighboring lands.

"I irrigate out of the Tongue River, and salty water from coal plants nearby can harm the land and soil."

Fix's experience prompted the rancher to write an editorial addressed to Congressman Zinke, in which Fix highlights his conservation concerns in Zinke leadership.

"He's done things that have been kind of more towards helping the coal company and maybe not paying attention to all the taxpayers and the water."

Fix said Zinke showed more support towards coal companies than taxpayers during his last term in Congress when Zinke introduced legislation reinstating loyalty loopholes allowing energy companies to sell publicly-owned coal to themselves.

When addressing concerns over water conservation, Fix said the Congressman is a vocal opponent of the Stream Protection Rule, a reform to the federal strip mine law the rancher said would protect neighboring landowners and their water from the impacts of mining.

Fix also writes the following statement:

"If he is to succeed as Secretary of Interior, he will need to learn to represent the interest of all Americans, not just coal companies. As the top public custodian of our country's natural resources and public lands, he will need to understand the value that Americans put on the fair and wise management of public lands and public resources."  -Mark Fix, Northern Plains Resource Council

Fix said, ultimately, Secretaries of the Interior are called to be public stewards.

"I wish Congressman Zinke well in his potential new role," Fix added. "I hope he will make stewardship his highest priority - stewardship of land, air, water, taxpayers, and the sovereign treaty rights of the American Indians."

More from Congressman Ryan Zinke, including Tuesday's confirmation before the U.S. Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, can be found on kulr8.com.

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