Interior Secretary Nominee Delayed

Interior Secretary Nominee Delayed

Senate Republicans have taken steps to delay the confirmation of President Joe Biden’s Interior secretary nominee, citing Deb Haaland’s longstanding opposition to oil and gas development.

Senator Steve Daines of Montana and Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming have put “holds” on the vote, forcing a Senate debate and a procedural vote. That’s a parliamentary step that will delay but is unlikely to prevent Haaland’s eventual confirmation to lead the Interior Department given her support among Democrats and a handful of Republicans.

Haaland downplayed her past opposition to fracking during a heated hearing yesterday as she sought to reassure senators worried she would clamp down on fossil fuel development.

The move underscores deep opposition from many Senate Republicans over the Biden administration’s plans for managing the nation’s federal lands and waters.

Haaland, who would be the first Native American secretary in any president’s cabinet, has been an outspoken critic of fracking, the technique that drove U.S. oil and gas development to record levels, and was an original co-sponsor of the Green New Deal resolution outlining a vision for rapidly decarbonizing the U.S. economy.

At her confirmation hearing last month, Haaland downplayed those views, insisting that fossil fuels will play a major role in the U.S. for years to come and emphasizing that if she is confirmed Biden’s policy priorities will take precedence at the Interior Department. That wasn’t enough to assuage Daines or Lummis.

“Her record is clear: She opposes pipelines and fossil fuels, ignores science when it comes to wildlife management and wants to ban trapping on public lands,” Daines said. “We must consider the impact she will have on the West.”