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Haaland, the internal candidate, promises ‘balance’ on energy, environment,

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Haaland, the internal candidate, promises 'balance' on energy, environment,

 

Oil and natural gas will continue to play a significant role in America for years to come, even as President Joe Biden’s choice to lead the Interior Department promises that the Biden administration aims to protect public land and fix climate change.

Deb Haaland, a Congresswoman from New Mexico appointed to lead the Interior Department, said she is committed to “striking the right balance” as the agency oversees the production of resources and aims to preserve and secure the sprawling federal lands of the country.

In testimony prepared for her confirmation hearing Tuesday, Biden’s platform, 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. The remarks of Haaland are intended to refute criticism from some Republicans who have complained that their resistance to fracking on federal lands would cost thousands of West-wide jobs and hurt economies.

The first Native American to head a Cabinet department will be Haaland, 60. The Laguna Pueblo member and two-term congresswoman also draws on her history as a single mother and her ancestors’ teachings as a reminder that the U.S. will impact generations to come by taking action on climate change, the atmosphere and sacred places.

Native Americans see the appointment of Haaland as the best opportunity to switch from consultation on tribal issues to consensus and to place more land either directly or by stewardship agreements in the hands of tribal nations. There is broad oversight of tribal affairs and energy production by the Interior Department.

Haaland said in her prepared testimony, “The historical nature of my confirmation is not lost on me, but I will say that it is not about me.” Instead, I hope that this nomination will encourage Americans to move forward together as one country and build opportunities for us all.

As a Pueblo woman’s daughter, Haaland says she learned to appreciate hard work early. Her mother is a veteran of the Navy and worked for the Bureau of Indian Education, an agency of the Interior Department, for a quarter-century. Her father, who served in Vietnam, was a Marine. He received the Silver Star and is buried at the National Cemetery of Arlington.

“As a military family, when I was a kid, we moved every couple of years, but no matter where we lived, my dad taught me and my siblings to enjoy nature, whether on a mountain trail or walking along the beach,” Haaland said.

In Mesita, a Laguna Pueblo village, the future congresswoman spent summers with her grandparents. “It was with my grandfather in the cornfields where I learned the importance of water and protecting our resources and where I gained profound respect for the Earth,” she said.

Haaland vowed with honour and dignity to lead the Interior Department and said she would be “a fierce advocate for our public land.”

She vowed to listen to and work on both sides of the aisle with members of Congress and ensure that the decisions of the Interior Department are based on science. She also promised to “honour tribal nations’ sovereignty and recognise their part in the storey of America.”

She said she fully recognises the role that the Interior Department must play in Biden’s “build back better” infrastructure and clean energy strategy and said she would strive to protect future generations of natural resources “so that we can continue working, living, hunting, fishing, and praying among them.”

The nomination of Haaland has stirred strong opposition from some Republicans who claim that their “radical ideas” do not fit in, particularly in the West, with a rural way of life. They quote her support for the recent ban on oil and gas exploration on federal lands by the Green New Deal and Biden, which does not extend to tribal lands, and her opposition to fracking and the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

“Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., said Haaland would have to persuade him that she was able to split as a legislator from what he called her “extreme views,” including opposition to the oil industry and the lifting of grizzly bear federal protections.

Her album speaks for itself. She is a die-hard, far-left ideologue,’ said Daines in an interview.

The portrayal of Haaland as’ progressive’ was called a loaded reference to her tribal status by some Native American advocates.

For certain people who see someone who is an Indigenous woman possibly being in a position of influence, that kind of language is kind of a dog whistle,” said Ta’jin Perez with the Western Native Voice group.” “Folks are scared of change to some extent.”

The notion of racial overtones was called outrageous by Daines in his remarks.

He is a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which, at a hearing on Tuesday, will discuss Haaland’s nomination. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., the chairman of the commission, has not said how he will vote on Haaland’s nomination, which is widely backed by Democrats. Manchin, a moderate, said he was preparing to oppose Biden’s selection as budget director, Neera Tanden, a significant flaw that could drop her appointment to the evenly split Senate.

In promoting Haaland, national civil rights groups have joined forces with tribal leaders and conservation groups. The NAACP, UnidosUS and Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum’s joint statement hailed her nomination as “historic” and called Haaland “a proven advocate of civil rights/racial justice.”

A letter signed by nearly 500 national and regional organisations representing Native Americans, environmental justice organisations and outdoor companies called Haaland “a proven leader and the right individual to lead the charge against the existential threats of our time: addressing the climate, biodiversity, extinction and COVID-19 crises and inequities of racial justice on our federal public lands and water.”

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