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Cramer: ND finds partner in Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke

North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer speaks Sunday, April 3, 2016, at the North Dakota GOP Convention at Scheels Arena in Fargo of his choice to endorse Donald Trump for president. File photo / Forum News Service

President Roosevelt once said "conservation means development as much as it does protection." As a dedicated naturalist, Teddy understood the importance of using the land to its fullest potential while also protecting it for future generations. Fortunately for North Dakotans, Montana-neighbor Ryan Zinke has demonstrated a Roosevelt-like mentality since becoming secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior.

Our federal government often forgets how important development is to responsible conservation practices — instead choosing to halt infrastructure projects and reprimand farm owners for growing crops to feed a hungry world. While differences naturally occur between local, state and federal governments; the federal government's first instinct should be to work with the states, not against them as has been seen over the past decade.

Zinke has proven his commitment to working with us. Through regular communication with me and people across North Dakota, he has shown an attentiveness to North Dakota priorities undemonstrated for years, or even decades, by previous Interior officials.

When North Dakota farmers were having problems, Zinke accepted my request to send Fish and Wildlife Service officials to participate in a town hall in Devils Lake and discuss their concerns.

Likewise, when Zinke became aware of the problems North Dakota has endured for decades with the Garrison Diversion Project, he accepted my request to bring state and community stakeholders to personally meet with him in his office. With the secretary committing to putting 'fresh eyes' on the project, the meeting provides the most optimism in years that the federal government will hold up their end of the deal so North Dakotans in the central and eastern part of the state can benefit from a clean and reliable source of water.

In western North Dakota, Zinke is enacting common sense policies that remove unnecessary regulations and promote job growth while protecting our lands. The Interior Department has suspended the Bureau of Land Management Waste Prevention rule the House of Representatives voted to nullify on Feb. 3, 2017, due to its overreach of authority and burden. Zinke removed the senseless federal coal moratorium and BLM hydraulic fracturing rule imposed under the Obama administration. And the Interior Department is also reviewing the FWS Management of Non-Federal Oil and Gas Rights rule and numerous policies developed under the Obama Administration at the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement designed to make coal cost prohibitive.

Looking back on a successful 2017, it's been refreshing to have Zinke and the Trump administration working with North Dakota as partners. That type of collaboration is uncommon and shouldn't go unnoticed. I thank the secretary for his commitment and dedication to making our state a better place, and I look forward to a successful 2018 under his leadership.

Cramer represents North Dakota in the U.S. House of Representatives.