WASHINGTON, Dec 9 (Reuters) - U.S. President-elect Donald Trump is expected to pick U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a strong advocate of increased oil and gas development who is skeptical about climate change, to run the Department of the Interior, sources briefed on the matter told Reuters on Friday.
The appointment could mean easier access for industry to more than a quarter of America's territory, ranging from national parks to tribal lands stretching from the Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico, where energy companies have been eager to drill and mine.
Three sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters Trump was expected to nominate the congresswoman from Washington state to head the department, which is charged with the management and conservation of federally-owned land and administers programs relating to Native American tribes.
McMorris Rodgers, the fourth most senior member of the House leadership, has been a supporter of efforts to expand the U.S. energy industry. She voted for the Native American Energy Act, a bill that was vetoed by President Barack Obama in 2015, that would have made it easier to drill on tribal territories.
On her website, she also touts her support of the recent repeal of the decades old ban on oil exports, and for a bill to reject the EPA's Waters of the United States Act as some of her key achievements on energy and environment.
She has also expressed skepticism about climate change, consistently opposing Obama's measures to combat it, and once arguing that former Vice President Al Gore, a longtime advocate for steps to combat global warming, deserves an "F" in science and an "A" in creative writing.
The League of Conservation Voters, which publishes a score card ranking the environmental record of each member of Congress, gave McMorris Rodgers a zero in its most recent ratings.
McMorris Rodgers has been a member of the House/Senate energy conference committee working to pass bipartisan energy legislation that included provisions to boost hydropower and update forest policy.
In her role as interior secretary, she would oversee over 70,000 employees.
Read more about Cabinet positions:
What do the Cabinet positions do anyway?
What do the Cabinet positions do anyway?
Vice President of the United States
Originally, the Vice President's main job was to preside over the Senate. But beginning in the 1970s, the Vice President's powers grew. Former Vice President Dick Cheney, for example, is considered to have had a large role in shaping George W. Bush's foreign policy. Former Indiana Gov. Mike Pence will take over the office from Joe Biden when Trump is inaugurated in January.
Pictured: Vice President-elect Mike Pence
(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Secretary of State
The secretary of state serves as the President's main adviser on foreign policy issues, negotiates treaties and represents the U.S. at the United Nations. Trump has yet to say who will replace current Secretary of State John Kerry in his administration, but former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Sen. Bob Corker and retired General and former CIA Director David Petraeus are reportedly under consideration, though the New York Times reported Sunday that Trump is still interviewing candidates, so that list may still grow.
Pictured: Current Secretary of State John Kerry
(Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Secretary of the Treasury
The secretary of the treasury is in charge of the administration's financial and economic policies. Trump named hedge fund manager and movie financier Steven Mnuchin as his replacement for current Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.
Dubbed the "pople's lawyer," the attorney general helms the United States Department of Justice and advises the president on legal matters. The position is currently held by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Trump has picked Sen. Jeff Sessions to fill the role.
Pictured: Trump's pick, Jeff Sessions
(Photo credit ZACH GIBSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Secretary of the Interior
Known to some as the "department of everything else," the DOI "protects America's natural resources and heritage, honors our cultures and tribal communities and supplies the energy to power our future" and is currently headed by Secretary Sally Jewell. Trump has yet to name his pick, but the drilling advocates on his short list — which apparently includes former Vice-presidential candidate and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin — have environmental activists concerned.
Pictured: Current Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell
(Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)
Secretary of Agriculture
Thomas J. Vilsack currently heads the United States Department of Agriculture, which oversees policies relating to food, agriculture and rural development. No word yet on who will fill that role in Trump's administration, but one of the names Trump has mentioned is Sid Miller, the Texas agriculture commissioner and Trump adviser who once called Hillary Clinton a "cunt" on Twitter.
Pictured: Current Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack
(Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Secretary of Commerce
As the department's mission statement puts it: "The Secretary of Commerce serves as the voice of U.S. business within the President's Cabinet." Businesswoman Penny Pritzker currently serves in the role, for which Trump has tapped billionaire investor and longtime Trump business associate Wilbur Ross Jr.
Pictured: Trump's pick, Wilbur Ross Jr.
(Photo by Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Secretary of Labor
Thomas E. Perez is the current United States Secretary of Labor and is tasked with overseeing the welfare of U.S. workers. Trump has yet to officially announce his choice, but reports indicate that he is considering Obama-critic Andrew Puzder, the CEO of Carl's Jr. and Hardee's parent company CKE Restaurants.
Earlier this week, Trump announcedthe nomination of one of his former Republican presidential primary opponents, neurosurgeon Ben Carson, for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, despite his lack of formal qualifications. In that role, he will take over for Julian Castro as the president's adviser on issues relating to housing and cities, including homelessness, sustainability and equal opportunity.
According to its mission statement, the Energy Department seeks to "ensure America's security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions." The current secretary of energy is Ernest Moniz; Sen. Joe Manchin, a conservative democrat, is reportedly under consideration for the role in Trump's administration.
Pictured: Current Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz
(Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Secretary of Education
Trump's selection of Betsy DeVos, a republican donor and so-called "school choice" advocate, has been met with significant criticism. DeVos, who would be Trump's primary voice on educational policy, is considered the face of a struggling school system in her native Michigan. The department is currently run by Secretary John King.
Pictured: Trump's pick, Betsy DeVos
(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Trump has promised to "fix" the VA, which is currently run by Secretary Robert McDonald. But some veterans advocates worry that the incoming Trump administration will gut the department, which is tasked with providing assistance to military veterans. Reports that Sarah Palin and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry are under consideration for the role add to concerns that the new administration will privatize the VA.
Pictured: Current Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald
(Photo by Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images)
Secretary of Homeland Security
One of the central tenets of Trump's presidential campaign was immigration. His calls to build a wall on the border between the U.S. and Mexico, to conduct massive deportations of undocumented immigrants and to halt immigration from Muslim countries were among his signature tunes at campaign rallies. That potentially makes the head of the Department of Homeland Security, which was created in the wake of September 11th, one of the most significant roles in the Trump administration. The agency, which focuses on terrorism, national security and the enforcement of immigration laws, is currently headed by Secretary Jeh Johnson. Trump has yet to officially announce his secretary of homeland security pick, but Politico reported that top Trump aides have mentioned retired Marine General John Kelly as the top candidate. Far-right Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke is also reportedly under consideration.
Pictured: Current Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson
(Photo via REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)
There are currently seven positions that are not considered to be an official part of the president's Cabinet, but that have Cabinet-level rankings. They are: the White House chief of staff, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, the United States Trade representative, the United States mission to the United Nations, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and the head of the Small Business Administration.
On Nov. 13, Trump named Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus chief of staff.