Climate Change On the Hill

Deb Haaland Faces Difficult Confirmation Hearing

Deb Haaland, Congresswoman from New Mexico and President Biden’s Secretary of the Interior nominee, is facing the second day of her confirmation hearing today before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. 

Haaland’s nomination is historic– if confirmed, she will be the first Native American Cabinet secretary. 

In her hearing so far, she has faced a hard line of questioning, particularly from conservative members of the committee who have argued that her views on the environment are too progressive and that a push for clean energy could hurt jobs.

In her opening statement, Haaland said, “There’s no question that fossil energy does and will continue to play a major role in America for years to come.” But she added, “Our climate challenge must be addressed,” and she contended that “the Department has a role in harnessing the clean energy potential of our public lands to create jobs and new economic opportunities.”

Haaland has emphasized throughout her hearing that she serves at the pleasure of the President and will carry out his policy agenda.

Biden’s clean energy plan includes an effort to conserve at least 30% of US land and ocean by 2030, as part of an international push for conservation aiming to mitigate climate change. Biden signed the ‘30 by 30” executive order at the end of January, ordering to pause new oil and gas leases on public lands, and establishing an office of environmental justice in the White House.

As President Biden has nominated a diverse cabinet, with many women and people of color in critical roles, many of those nominees are facing disproportionate opposition from the Senate. Like Neera Tanden, Xavier Becerra, and Kristen Clarke, Deb Haaland has faced harsh questioning and strong opposition from conservatives and moderates in the Senate, particularly in contrast with Biden’s white nominees, who have been confirmed with more ease.

“The idea that there’s controversy here bears a lot of scrutiny, especially when the controversy is that the person was an advocate, or the person sought to protect the rights of people of color, or fought to protect the rights of women,” said Fatima Goss Graves, president of the National Women’s Law Center.

Sources: CNN 2/24/21; CSPAN 2/24/21; Twitter 2/24/21; National Geographic 1/27/21; Huffington Post 2/23/21

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