Following Confirmation Hearing, Interior Secretary Nominee Deb Haaland Likely to be Confirmed
In her confirmation hearing this week before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, President Biden’s Interior Secretary nominee Deb Haaland stressed her support for energy independence and committed to balancing the department’s support for oil and natural gas usage with the burden of tackling climate change and conserving private lands. Haaland, an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Laguna and currently a member of the House of Representatives representing New Mexico’s first Congressional District, would be the first Native American cabinet secretary in United States history if confirmed.
“We absolutely need energy independence and I believe President Biden agrees with that statement as well,” she said, according to NBC News. “I know that we want to move forward with some clean energy, we want to get to net-zero.”
Haaland also stressed that the move to energy independence cannot be immediate. “We will absolutely rely on the fossil fuel energy. But at the same time, I think we can move forward with the technology and innovation as well.”
While she faces opposition from Republicans on the Committee and in Congress due to her previous opposition to fossil fuels, including fracking and drilling on public lands, she acknowledged in her opening statement that “there’s no question that fossil energy does and will continue to play a major role in America for years to come.”
“But we must also recognize that the energy industry is innovating, and our climate challenge must be addressed,” she continued. “Together we can work to position our nation and all of its people for success in the future, and I am committed to working cooperatively with all stakeholders, and all of Congress, to strike the right balance going forward.”
Following the hearing, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin III, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, announced that he would support Haaland’s confirmation. Prior to the hearing, Manchin, who represents a state with a large fossil fuel industry, was undecided on whether he would support or oppose Ms. Haaland. Manchin’s support means her confirmation is likely, even though many Senate Republicans are expected to vote against it.
As Interior Secretary, Haaland will play a significant role in President Biden’s agenda, which includes the creation of a Civilian Climate Corps. Haaland said such a program “demonstrates that America’s public lands can and should be engines for clean energy production” and “has the potential to spur job creation.”
“The historic nature of my confirmation is not lost on me, but I will say that it is not about me,” said Haaland. “Rather, I hope this nomination would be an inspiration for Americans⎯moving forward together as one nation and creating opportunities for all of us.”