Interior nominee Haaland vows ''balance'' on energy, climate

PTI | Washington DC | Updated: 23-02-2021 19:29 IST | Created: 23-02-2021 19:29 IST
Interior nominee Haaland vows ''balance'' on energy, climate

Oil and natural gas will continue to play a major role in America for years to come, even as the Biden administration seeks to conserve public lands and address climate change, President Joe Biden's nominee to head the Interior Department pledges.

Deb Haaland, a New Mexico congresswoman named to lead the Interior Department, said she is committed to “strike the right balance” as the agency manages energy development and seeks to restore and protect the nation's sprawling federal lands.

Biden's agenda, including the possible creation of a Civilian Climate Corps, “demonstrates that America's public lands can and should be engines for clean energy production'' and “has the potential to spur job creation,'' Haaland said in testimony prepared for her confirmation hearing Tuesday.

Haaland's remarks are intended to rebut criticism from some Republicans who have complained that her opposition to drilling on federal lands will cost thousands of jobs and harm economies throughout the West. Haaland, 60, would be the first Native American to lead a Cabinet agency. The Laguna Pueblo member and two-term congresswoman often draws on her experience as a single mother and the teachings of her ancestors as a reminder that action the U.S. takes on climate change, the environment and sacred sites will affect generations to come.

Native Americans see Haaland's nomination as the best chance to move from consultation on tribal issues to consent and to put more land into the hands of tribal nations either outright or through stewardship agreements. The Interior Department has broad oversight of tribal affairs and energy development.

“The historic nature of my confirmation is not lost on me, but I will say that it is not about me,'' Haaland said in her prepared testimony. ”Rather, I hope this nomination would be an inspiration for Americans — moving forward together as one nation and creating opportunities for all of us.'' As the daughter of a Pueblo woman, Haaland says she learned early to value hard work. Her mother is a Navy veteran and worked for a quarter-century at the Bureau of Indian Education, an Interior Department agency. Her father was a Marine who served in Vietnam. He received the Silver Star and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

“As a military family, we moved every few years when I was a kid, but no matter where we lived, my dad taught me and my siblings to appreciate nature, whether on a mountain trail or walking along the beach,'' Haaland said. The future congresswoman spent summers with her grandparents in Mesita, a Laguna Pueblo village. “It was in the cornfields with my grandfather where I learned the importance of water and protecting our resources and where I gained a deep respect for the Earth,'' she said.

Haaland pledged to lead the Interior Department with honor and integrity and said she will be “a fierce advocate for our public lands.” She promised to listen to and work with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle and ensure that the Interior Department's decisions are based on science. She also vowed to “honor the sovereignty of tribal nations and recognize their part in America's story.'' She said she fully understands the role the Interior Department must play in Biden's “build back better” plan for infrastructure and clean energy and said she will seek to protect natural resources for future generations “so that we can continue to work, live, hunt, fish, and pray among them.'' Haaland's nomination has stirred strong opposition from some Republicans who say her “radical ideas” don't fit in with a rural way of life, particularly in the West. They cite her support for the Green New Deal and Biden's recent moratorium on oil and gas drilling on federal lands — which doesn't apply to tribal lands — and her opposition to fracking and the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., said Haaland will have to convince him she's willing to break from what he called her “radical views” as a lawmaker, including opposition to the oil industry and to the lifting of federal protections for grizzly bears.

“Her record speaks for itself. She's a die-hard, far-left ideologue,” Daines said in an interview.

Some Native American advocates called the description of Haaland as “radical” a loaded reference to her tribal status.

“That kind of language is sort of a dog whistle for certain folks that see somebody who is an Indigenous woman potentially being in a position of power,” said Ta'jin Perez with the group Western Native Voice. “Folks to some degree are afraid of change.” Daines called the notion of racial overtones in his remarks outrageous.

He is a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which will consider Haaland's nomination to a hearing Tuesday. The panel's chair, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has not said how he will vote on Haaland's nomination, which Democrats generally support. Manchin, a moderate, said he plans to oppose Biden's choice for budget director, Neera Tanden, a crucial defection that could sink her nomination in the evenly divided Senate.

National civil rights groups have joined forces with tribal leaders and environmental groups in supporting Haaland. A joint statement by the NAACP, UnidosUS and Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum praised her nomination as “historic” and called Haaland “a proven civil rights/racial justice advocate.”

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

East African women traders: 'Celebrating the past, planning for the future'

COVID-19 has hit women disproportionately hard across East Africa, especially those working in the informal sector. Lessons must be learnt to prevent this from happening again....

Viral variants and vaccine nationalism pose two-pronged threat to Covid victory

... ...

Tracking Fintech during COVID-19: Harnessing power of technology

Its abundantly clear now that as fintech cements its place in the financial sector, accelerated further by the COVID-19 pandemic, it could open the sector to new possibilities by harnessing the power of technology to deliver financial ...

Tectonic turns: How technology shaped healthcare over the decades

Tracing an episodic evolution, with technology at the interface of human and his health....

Videos

Latest News

JPMorgan says it misjudged backing European Super League

JPMorgan said on Friday it regretted supporting soccer clubs in launching a breakaway European Super League after the plan collapsed earlier this week amid intense criticism from fans and politicians. We clearly misjudged how this deal woul...

Oxygen supply of West Bengal being diverted to UP by Centre, alleges Mamata

In a fresh attack on the Union government, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday alleged that amid deteriorating COVID-19 conditions the medical oxygen supply to West Bengal has been diverted to Uttar Pradesh by the Centre. ...

J&J COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective - German health official

Johnson Johnsons COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective and its side effects are very rare, the head of Germanys vaccine regulator said on Friday.Klaus Cichutek, the head of the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut, said Germanys vaccination expert panel...

Ethiopia signs $907 mln financing pact with World Bank

Ethiopias finance ministry signed a 907 million financing agreement with the World Bank on Friday geared towards improving access to financing, the fight against COVID-19 and electricity investment, it said.Some 700 million was a loan and 2...

Give Feedback