Trump expected to pick oil drilling advocate to run Interior Department

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.

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