Trump Shuns Palin, Picks McMorris Rodgers For Interior Secretary

In what is being touted as further diversification of the president-elect administration, Donald Trump is expected to name Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) to lead the Interior Department, according to reports. McMorris Rodgers gets the nod ahead of Sarah Palin and Harold Hamm.

The candidates mentioned for the Interior Secretary were... 

  • * Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor, 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee
  • * Jan Brewer, former Republican Arizona governor
  • * Forrest Lucas, founder of oil products company Lucas Oil
  • * Harold Hamm, Oklahoma oil and gas mogul, chief executive of Continental Resources Inc
  • * Robert Grady, venture capitalist, partner in private equity firm Gryphon Investors
  • * Mary Fallin, Republican Oklahoma governor
  • * Ray Washburne, chief executive of investment company Charter Holdings
  • * Cathy McMorris Rodgers, U.S. representative from Washington state and Republican Conference chair

But as The Hill reports, Trump will tap McMorris-Rodgers, a five-term Republican who represents eastern Washington and is the chair of the House GOP Conference, to lead the department, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

McMorris Rodgers is a vice chair of Trump’s transition team and the highest-ranking woman in GOP leadership. She formally met with Trump on Nov. 20. Her office declined to comment Friday. 


If confirmed by the Senate, McMorris Rodgers would lead the 70,000-employee, $12 billion Interior Department, which manages federal lands for both preservation and energy and mineral development, controls offshore drilling and oversees national parks.


She would be Trump’s point person on public lands energy development, something Trump said he wants to expand as president. 


Trump opposes the Obama administration’s moratorium on coal leasing on federal lands and, in a September speech, proposed a “top-down review of all anti-coal regulations issued by the Obama administration,” an effort that would include the Interior Department.   


Trump’s transition website said he “will encourage the production of [fossil fuels] by opening onshore and offshore leasing on federal lands and waters.”


Trump, though, has professed a view of federal land ownership that is relatively moderate compared to some conservatives. 


In a speech this week, he said he would follow the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt and “conserve and protect our beautiful natural resources for the next generation including protecting lands.” 


During his presidential campaign, he said he “[doesn’t] like the idea” of transferring federal lands to states because “I want to keep the lands great, and you don’t know what the state is going to do. I mean, are they going to sell if they get into a little bit of trouble? And I don’t think it’s something that should be sold." 

McMorris Rodgers is a booster of hydropower and has pushed legislation to tackle forest fires in the West. 

She has voted in favor of expanding fossil fuel development on public lands and in federal areas off-shore. She opposes efforts to change the royalty rates on federal coal mining, something pushed hard by Obama’s Interior Department, and voted for a GOP budget that would allow the sale of public lands to mining companies. 

In the past, she has introduced legislation to require congressional approval before the president can designate a national monument, and a bill directing the Bureau of Land Management to release public lands it holds that it has deemed not suitable for wilderness status.