Ranking Member Barrasso Questions Haaland on Answering Letter to DOI, ESA, National Parks Access, & Jobs

February 24, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), questioned the Honorable Debra Haaland, President Biden’s nominee to be the next secretary of the interior. Haaland testified before ENR at a hearing on her nomination.  

Barrasso pressed Haaland on a number of issues, including the letter Ranking Member Barrasso sent to the Department of the Interior on the 60 day moratorium, implementing the Endangered Species Act, protecting access to our national parks and public lands, and the false hope from John Kerry on job opportunities. 

On Letter Ranking Member Barrasso Sent to the Department of the Interior on the 60 Day Moratorium 

“On February 4 of this year, I sent the acting interior secretary a letter, which included 22 specific questions about his secretarial order, banning oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters for 60 days. 

“On Monday, the acting secretary sent a response, which largely restates his secretarial order and fails to answer my specific questions. 

“I’m going to resubmit my 22 questions – they will be addressed to you in writing and be part of the hearing record for this hearing. 

“It’s unconscionable that the people of Wyoming cannot get a straight answer from the department. 

“I know you’re in that position now, but there is an acting secretary who is refusing to answer the questions. 

“Can I get your commitment that you will answer my questions as they’re coming to you in writing? 

“I appreciate that because I know staff at the department are going to help you respond to the written questions from all of us at the committee. 

“I’m confident that with your help, we can get answers to these questions so thank you.”


Click here for video of Sen. Barrasso questioning Haaland on the letter he sent to the Department of the Interior on the 60 day moratorium.


On Implementing the Endangered Species Act:

“The Endangered Species Act is an important conservation tool, as you’ve said, that was enacted to protect species from extinction. 

“The proper application of this law has resulted in the recovery of several species. 

“It is important to me that this law be applied in a responsible manner so we can protect the species that truly need protection. 

“Yesterday when you were asked why you would sponsor legislation that would put grizzly bears under permanent federal protection, you said ‘I imagine at the time I was caring about bears.’ 

“I want to make sure you will care about the law.  

“Will you commit to doing everything in your power to fight frivolous lawsuits and delist species that government scientists have concluded are fully recovered?”


Click here for video of Sen. Barrasso questioning Haaland on implementing the Endangered Species Act.


On Protecting Access to National Parks and Public Lands: 

“The global pandemic has created an unprecedented situation that has kept people isolated for almost a year. 

“One way that people have coped with all of the restrictions from the pandemic has been by visiting national parks and public lands. 

“You were critical of efforts to open federal lands during the pandemic. Even though it was done in coordination with state and local health departments. 

“It is important to me that we ensuring the public has a place to go during this public health crisis, when there are very few other options.

“Will you protect access to our national parks and other public lands, during the pandemic?”


Click here for video of Sen. Barrasso questioning Haaland on protecting access to national parks and public lands.


On False Hope from John Kerry on Job Opportunities: 

“Yesterday, you said you wanted to move forward with President Biden’s ‘Build Back Better’ plan that would as you said ‘create millions of jobs in clean energy.’ 

“Recently, John Kerry claimed that the fastest growing job before covid was solar technician. 

“He said that the administration would give fossil fuel workers ‘better choices.’ 

“The Washington Post fact checker then just looked into what former Senator and Secretary of State Kerry had to say.

“This is what the Washington Post fact checker said: ‘he was offering false hope with a misleading use of statistics.’ 

“The Washington Post went on and said it identified ‘10,400 new wind and solar jobs over the next 10 years.’ 

“We are talking about maybe a million energy jobs being lost and the Washington Post says John Kerry is talking about 10,000 jobs relative to a million. 

“Do you have any evidence to dispute what the Washington Post has said about the statements coming out of this administration and the false hope being offered? 

“We’ve heard similar types of rhetoric from this administration and from John Kerry back in 2009 under the Obama administration. 

“We ended up with failures like Solyndra – the promise of green jobs to billions ended up with billions of wasted taxpayer dollars, bankrupt companies, and almost no actual jobs.”


Click here for video of Sen. Barrasso questioning Haaland on false hope from John Kerry on job opportunities.