Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a business meeting to consider the nomination of Mr. Daniel Jorjani to be Solicitor of the Department of the Interior and Mr. Mark Lee Greenblatt to be Inspector General, Department of the Interior. Senator Manchin released the following statement on his vote against the nomination of Mr. Jorjani and vote to confirm Mr. Greenblatt.
“I am very favorably impressed by the Inspector General nominee, Mark Greenblatt. He has spent the last 16 years fighting waste, fraud, and abuse— first, on the staff of the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations; then in the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General; and most recently, as the Assistant Inspector General at the Commerce Department. He plainly has the training and experience, and I am persuaded that he has also has the temperament and integrity that he will need to serve as the Department of the Interior’s Inspector General. I am pleased to be able to support his nomination.
“I regret that I am not able to support Mr. Jorjani’s nomination to be the Solicitor. As I have said before, as a former Governor, I believe that an executive is entitled to deference when selecting his or her team, as long as the candidates are qualified and ethical. But each Administration is not entitled to disregard congressional intent.
“Congress makes our laws. It concerns me that Mr. Jorjani has spent the past two years he has served as the Acting Solicitor overturning prior interpretations of our public land laws in a manner that is out of step with congressional intent. I asked Mr. Jorjani about this and about his views on how much weight prior agency interpretations should be given—both at our hearing and in my post-hearing questions for the record. While I appreciate Mr. Jojrani’s responses to these inquiries, regrettably, I never got a direct answer to my question. I am also troubled by his answer to my question about environmental mitigation.
“Finally, I am concerned by Mr. Jorjani’s responses to Senator Wyden’s questions about the Department’s timely adherence to the Freedom of Information Act. Last November, Secretary Zinke designated the Solicitor as the Department’s Chief Freedom of Information Officer thereby putting Acting Solicitor Jorjani in charge of overseeing the Department’s responses to requests for information. I believe his responses to Senator Wyden’s questions about the Freedom of Information Act program lacked the attention and regard they deserve. The Solicitor must uphold the law above all else—above party, politics, and ideology. That was not the sense I got from Mr. Jorjani’s responses to our questions. For these reasons, I am unable to support Mr. Jorjani’s nomination.”