Hatch Meets with Interior Secretary Nominee Ryan Zinke to Discuss Bears Ears, Recommends Mike Noel for BLM Director

Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the senior Republican in the United States Senate, issued the following statement following a meeting with Congressman Ryan Zinke, President-elect Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of the Interior:

“When President Obama locked away over one million acres of public land by designating the Bears Ears National Monument, I expressed my intention to discuss this drastic overreach in a special meeting with Secretary-designate Zinke. I stated that my support for Zinke’s nomination would depend largely on his willingness to work with our congressional delegation to help us clean up the mess the Obama administration created in San Juan County. After meeting with Secretary-designate Zinke today, I am confident that the new administration will work with us to right this wrong.”

“In Secretary-designate Zinke, we have a willing partner who not only understands Western values but is also eager to repair much of the damage caused by the Obama administration. Secretary-designate Zinke even told me that his first trip will be to Utah to meet with our Congressional delegation and the people of San Juan County to get to work fixing this mess. He also said that restoring the public’s trust in the Department of the Interior is among his top priorities. After two overbearing monument designations in our state, many Utahns have soured toward the federal government, so I appreciate Secretary Designate Zinke’s willingness to act in good faith.”

In his meeting with Zinke, Senator Hatch also took the opportunity to express his support for Utah State Representative Mike Noel to be nominated as the Director of the Bureau of Land Management. Senator Hatch gave Zinke a number of letters recommending Noel to this position, including a letter Hatch wrote himself. In his endorsement, Hatch wrote, “Mike Noel boasts the impressive combination of over 20 years as an employee of the BLM and over 10 years as a member of the State of Utah House of Representatives. Paired with his experience as a state legislator, his appreciation of the complex administrative dynamics within the BLM make him uniquely qualified for the position.”