Former U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis has emerged as a serious contender to become President Trump’s next interior secretary, according to reports.
Lummis, 64, a Wyoming cattle rancher and champion of oil, gas and coal, is reportedly the top pick to lead the $11 billion agency and its 70,000 employees. The department is charged with overseeing drilling, grazing and other uses of public lands.
The Republican, who left Congress in 2017 after deciding not to see re-election, first interviewed for the secretary position that year before Trump selected former secretary Ryan Zinke.
She told the Hill in December that she would focus on forest management and wildfire control, issues Trump tweeted about last year as a series of catastrophic wildfires ravaged parts of California.
“I have always prioritized natural resources policy,” she said. “Much more needs to be done to enhance the ability of the land to resist and fight catastrophic wildfires.”
U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., who leads the Freedom Caucus, said Wednesday that the group would support Lummis’ nomination.
Any nomination would need Senate confirmation.
Lummis recently interviewed again for the position, two people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. Also in consideration are U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, and the Interior Department’s acting chief, David Bernhardt.
Zinke left the Interior Department in January after investigations into his travel and suspected conflicts of interest.
Lummis spent her eight years in Congress advocating for ranchers and criticizing alternative-energy policies. She said tax credits for electric vehicles would benefit the rich and resisted efforts to extend tax credits for wind energy.