Ranking Member Barrasso Questions Rep. Deb Haaland on Her Past Statements on Fossil Fuels and Cannabis

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. Barrasso also entered a letter from the Northern Arapaho on job loss due to the Biden administration’s ban on oil and gas leasing into the record at the hearing.

Haaland testified before ENR at a hearing on her nomination. 

Barrasso pressed Haaland on a number of issues, including her previous remarks regarding fossil fuels and making up for loss of oil and gas royalties in New Mexico. 

On Northern Arapaho Letter for the Record: 

“Yesterday, when discussing the effects that President Biden’s ban on oil and gas leasing have had on workers, you stated ‘I feel like, in the short term, hopefully their jobs have not been affected.’ 

“Their jobs are being affected now.  

“I have a letter from the Northern Arapaho Business Council in Wyoming, opposing the President’s ban on leasing. 

“The Northern Arapaho Business Council letter states: ‘Delays in leasing have already negatively impacted small to midsized operators. The longer the orders remain in place the more revenue will decline and result in additional blows to our economy, the oil and gas workforce, and Wyoming’s education system.’ 

“I ask unanimous consent to enter the letter into the hearing record.”


Click here for video of Sen. Barrasso reading Northern Arapaho letter on job loss due to oil and gas leasing ban for the hearing record.


On Her Previous Remarks Regarding Fossil Fuels: 

“You have stated that you are ‘wholeheartedly against fracking and drilling on public lands.’ 

“You have said that ‘we need to…keep fossil fuels in the ground.’ 

“You have also stated that you oppose ‘all new fossil fuel infrastructure.’ 

“If confirmed, President Biden is likely to ask you whether he should extend the ban on oil, gas, and coal leasing on federal lands and waters. 

“Now, you’ve said repeatedly that President Biden’s agenda is your agenda. 

“But what this committee wants to know is how will you advise him. 

“That will be your principal role as secretary of the interior. 

“So how will you advise him – will you encourage the president to extend the 60-day ban on leasing or not?”


Click here for video of Sen. Barrasso questioning Haaland on her previous remarks regarding fossil fuels.


On Making Up for Loss of Oil & Gas Royalties in New Mexico: 

“In 2018, you campaigned on eliminating oil and gas production in New Mexico.

“You were specifically asked how you would make up for the loss of oil and gas royalties, which the state uses to fund public schools, your answer was you ‘would vote to legalize cannabis’ 

“And you said that ‘if we legalize cannabis and we have a new funding stream for our education system, that…will help tremendously.’ 

“That was your statement.

“Do you still believe that states should replace oil and gas royalties – used for public education – with taxes on the sale of marijuana?

“Is that your position?

“Is selling marijuana among what the Biden administration calls the ‘better choices’ that the Biden administration has promised to give displaced oil and gas workers? 

“Is that the better choice? Marijuana? 

“We know what your stance is on replacing the revenue from the energy jobs – the jobs that power our economy and the energy that powers our country. 

“Your preference is to turn to drugs – is what you’ve recommended to the voters – at a time when we know there is high unemployment and energy workers lose their jobs. 

“We’ve seen it in West Virginia, we’ve seen it around the country. There’s been an opioid crisis in this nation, and yet what I hear from you is the answer in a ‘better choice’ world is marijuana.”


Click here for video of Sen. Barrasso questioning Haaland on making up for loss of oil & gas royalties in New Mexico.