Barrasso: Rep. Haaland’s Past Policy Positions are Squarely at Odds with the Mission of the Department of the Interior

February 23, 2021

Click here to watch Senator Barrasso’s remarks.  

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) delivered the following remarks at a hearing entitled, “Hearing to Consider the Nomination of the Honorable Debra Haaland to be the Secretary of the Interior.”

The hearing featured testimony from the Honorable Debra Haaland, nominee to be secretary of interior. 

For more information on witness testimony click here. 

Senator Barrasso’s remarks: 

“Today, our committee is considering the nomination of Representative Deb Haaland to serve as the secretary of the interior. 

“First, Mr. Chairman, I’d like to join you in welcoming the four new members of the committee. 

“I’m looking forward to their active participation in all of our deliberations. 

“Since 2019, Congresswoman Haaland has represented New Mexico’s first congressional district which includes most of Albuquerque and several surrounding Pueblos and suburbs. 

“If confirmed, she would be the first Native American cabinet secretary – for that reason, her nomination is historic and deserves to be recognized. 

“At the same time, I am troubled by many of Representative Haaland’s views. Views that many in my home state of Wyoming would consider as radical. 

“The secretary of the interior is a critically important job to my home state of Wyoming and to the entire West. 

“If confirmed as secretary of the interior, Representative Haaland would lead an agency with more than 70,000 employees. 

“These employees manage 20 percent of the nation’s lands, including our national parks, our national monuments, our wildlife refuges, our multiple use lands, and the entire outer continental shelf. 

“They also serve as managers of the largest water supply in the West. 

“The secretary’s responsibility includes upholding our nation’s trust responsibilities to 574 federally-recognized American Indian tribes and Alaska Natives. 

“The secretary also has important responsibilities related to the U.S territories and the Freely Associated States. 

“One of the secretary’s most critical functions is to oversee the development of traditional and renewable energy supplies on public lands and waters. 

“In Wyoming, we are proud to be America’s leading producer of coal, uranium, trona, bentonite. 

“Wyoming ranks number one in federal natural gas production and number two in federal oil production.

“Almost 50 percent of Wyoming’s surface area and 69 percent of Wyoming’s minerals are owned by the federal government. 

“The collective size of surface area owned by the federal government in Wyoming is larger than the entire state of West Virginia. 

“Energy production on public land creates good-paying jobs. It provides tremendous revenue for the state. 

“In Wyoming, energy and mineral activity on Department of the Interior land had a $17.3 billion economic impact in fiscal year 2019 and supported over 57,000 jobs. 

“For years, the state of Wyoming has collected over $1 billion annually in royalties and taxes from oil, gas, and coal produced on federal lands within our borders. 

“Wyoming is not the only state that benefits from energy production on public lands. 

“In Representative Haaland’s home state of New Mexico, energy and minerals activity on Department of Interior lands contributed $21 billion in fiscal year 2019. 

“New Mexico has collected, on an annual basis, over $1 billion in royalties and taxes from oil and gas produced on federal lands within its borders. 

“We should not undermine American energy production and we should not hurt our own economy. 

“Yet that is precisely what the Biden administration is doing. 

“By signing an executive order to ban all new oil, coal, gas leases on federal lands, the president is taking a sledgehammer to western states’ economies. 

“A ban on federal leasing could result in 33,000 workers losing their jobs in Wyoming. 

“In Representative Haaland’s home state of New Mexico, 62,000 workers stand to lose their jobs. 

“Our states will also lose hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue that is used for essential services, including hundreds of millions of dollars in funding of K through 12 public schools. 

“The Biden administration’s moratorium robs our children of their vital education funding, and the Senate agrees. 

“On February 4th, the Senate voted 98 to 2 for my amendment in an effort to restore the hundreds of millions of education dollars that will be lost to the Biden administration’s policies. 

“In his first month in office, President Biden has declared war on American energy, crushed jobs, and threatened vital education funds for our children. 

“Representative Haaland’s past statements show she agrees with this strategy. 

“In May of 2019, Representative Haaland said unequivocally in an interview with The Guardian newspaper: ‘I am wholeheartedly against fracking and drilling on public lands.’ 

“On her campaign website, Representative Haaland said we need to ‘keep fossil fuels in the ground.’ 

“And then went on to say: ‘I pledge to vote against all new fossil fuel infrastructure.’ 

“Representative Haaland’s positions are squarely at odds with the mission of the Department of the Interior. 

“That mission includes managing our nation’s oil, gas, and coal resources in a responsible manner – not eliminating access to them. 

“I am willing to work with Representative Haaland and the Biden administration to conserve our national parks and monuments, uphold our nation’s trust responsibilities, and protect multiple use of our public lands. 

“But if Representative Haaland intends to use the Department of the Interior to crush the economy of Wyoming and other western states, then I’m going to oppose the nomination. 

“Today’s hearing gives us an opportunity to hear directly from Congresswoman Haaland and to get more clarity regarding her views and vision for the Department of the Interior. 

“Thank you Mr. Chairman, and I look forward to her testimony.”