The confirmation hearing for Interior secretary nominee Deb Haaland is on Tuesday, and conservation groups are pressuring U.S. Sen Steve Daines to confirm her.
Montana’s Republican senator will be one of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee members questioning Haaland at her confirmation hearing. He announced Feb. 5 after meeting with the U.S. representative from New Mexico that he wouldn’t vote to confirm her if his concerns weren't addressed, which include the Democrat’s support for the Green New Deal, a 14-page statement of climate change ideals, which Daines has long opposed.
“Rep. Haaland’s record speaks for itself. She is a diehard, far-left ideologue. Her radical, hostile record on energy, wildlife management and land management is out of touch with Montanans,” said Katie Schoettler, Daines’ communications director.
Among Daines’ concerns are Haaland’s opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, which Republicans are pressuring President Joe Biden to accomplish following an unsuccessful, four-year effort by Donald Trump. Haaland also protested the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Monday, Haaland supporters said Daines and other Republicans fear an Interior secretary who doesn’t prioritize oil, gas and coal over all other federal land uses.
“I think the types of reforms that she is for, the level of engagement that we expect and will be required with our tribal partners is going to be unheard of and unmatched in history and I think that can be scary to Republican leaders who may not be in favor of that type of co-management, or collaboration,” said Christy Goldfuss, of the Center for American Progress. “I also think she is going to be a different leader and will not prioritize fossil fuels and fossil fuel development in a way that we have seen over the past four years. That will be scary to those who are supported by industry. And lastly, I think she recognizes that we need to change the way we manage our public lands for everyone to assure there’s more access and more equity in access to public lands.”
A Laguna Pueblo, Haaland is the first American Indian nominated to a presidential Cabinet, which her supporters have repeatedly emphasized. The Department of the Interior is charged with honoring the all U.S. treaties with American’s 574 sovereign tribal governments, including eight in Montana. From Indian health, education and law enforcement to trust land management, Interior has oversight, and more than a century of outcomes that have been damaging to American Indians.
Sunday and Monday, the names of more than 2,500 Montanans supporting Haaland appeared in print editions of Montana newspapers. The full-page ad was paid for by the Montana Wildlife Fund, which organized the petition with Western Native Voice.
Senate Democrats, including Montana’s Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, seem to fully support Haaland, giving the nominee 50 votes, plus a tie breaker by Vice President Kamala Harris. In a press call Monday, Ta’Jin Perez of Western Native Voice was confident the Democratic support would stand, this in spite of coal-state Senator Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, all but sinking another President Joe Biden nominee by announcing opposition to Neera Tanden as Office of Management and Budget director.
“She has strong support and she also has a strong track record of working in a bipartisan fashion on issues to get things done,” Perez said. “She’s someone who really listens, who cares about all stakeholders and I think she will bring that kind of leadership at Interior to really chart a path forward.”
Among other issues over which Daines said he disagrees with Haaland is allowing states to handle species management. Haaland previously supported a bill to make federal protections for grizzly bears permanent, Daines said. The nominee also opposes trapping animals on public land.
Haaland isn’t the first Cabinet nominee to the appear before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Schoettler pointed out that Daines voted to confirm former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm to be secretary of the Department of Energy.
The Green New Deal is core to Daines’ opposition. Introduced in February 2019, the Green New Deal is a resolution calling for a U.S. response to climate change’s effects on human health, the economy, environment and national security. It was a resolution that 2019 congressional newcomers like Haaland campaigned on. It helped flip control of the House to Democrats. The legislation was inspired by a 2018 special report on global warming by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The report warned of increasing wildfires, drought and costly financial consequences if the climate continues to warm two degrees beyond pre-industrialized levels.
The resolution called for creating a “Green New Deal” that would bring greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero, create high-paying jobs and compel a change to clean manufacturing practices. It also called for investing in energy-conserving infrastructure improvements.
But the Green New Deal didn’t call for some of the things Republicans now accuse it of doing, like a ban on air travel, which is one this issues Montana’s U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale cited in opposing Haaland’s confirmation. The House plays no role in selecting Cabinet members.