Barrasso Opening Statement at Department of the Interior Nominations Hearing

May 18, 2021

Click here to watch Ranking Member Barrasso’s remarks.  

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), delivered the following remarks at a nominations hearing.

The hearing featured testimony from Mr. Robert T. Anderson, nominee to be solicitor of the Department of the Interior; Ms. Shannon A. Estenoz, nominee to be assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks; and Ms. Tanya M. Trujillo, nominee to be assistant secretary of the Department of the Interior for Water and Science. 

For more information on witness testimony click here. 

Senator Barrasso’s remarks: 

“I would also like to add my welcome Robert Anderson, Shannon Estenoz, and Tanya Trujillo, to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. 

“Congratulations to each and every one of you on your nominations.

“Mr. Anderson has been nominated to serve as the solicitor for the Department of the Interior. 

“If confirmed, he will serve as the chief attorney for the department and as principal legal adviser to Secretary Haaland.

“He will oversee more than 430 attorneys and staff within six legal divisions. 

“He will be designated as the department’s Chief Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Officer and will preside over the Ethics Office and the Indian Trust Litigation Office.  

“He will be responsible for ensuring that government business is conducted at Interior in a transparent manner and that ethical standards required by the law are upheld. 

“During his more than 25 year career, Mr. Anderson has both taught and practiced law. 

“His work has primarily related to Native American Law and almost exclusively in support of Native American Tribes.

“While very important, I am concerned that Mr. Anderson’s narrow focus has come at the expense of a broad range of additional legal matters and perspectives that will need to be considered in the solicitor’s office. 

“Since President Biden’s inauguration, he has served as principle deputy solicitor. 

“His actions in this role suggest he may not fully appreciate the priorities and concerns of many other stakeholder groups in my home state of Wyoming and throughout our nation. 

“Ms. Estenoz has been nominated to serve as assistant secretary for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks at the Department of the Interior.

“If confirmed, she is going to direct and supervise the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service – both of which are crucial to my home state of Wyoming. 

“Her more than 25 year career has focused on restoration of the Everglades in Florida. 

“She has demonstrated an ability to work across party lines, and a willingness to find common ground among stakeholders from across the political spectrum. 

“Three different Florida governors – one Democrat and two Republicans – have entrusted her with prominent leadership positions on state boards and commissions. 

“In this role, she should use her consensus-building skills to build bipartisan coalitions focused on all of the important issues at the National Park and Fish and Wildlife Services. 

“These include enhancing access to public lands and delisting fully-recovered species from the threatened and endangered species list.

“Ms. Trujillo has been nominated to serve as assistant secretary for water and science at the Department of the Interior.

“If confirmed, she will oversee the Bureau of Reclamation and the United States Geological Survey. 

“She is a water lawyer with more than two decades of experience focusing on natural resource management, interstate and transboundary water agreements, and the Colorado River Basin. 

“In Wyoming and across the West, there is no more important resource than water. 

“Ms. Trujillo, we have the opportunity to work together to improve the Department of the Interior’s management of water resources.

“The president’s infrastructure proposal discusses water resiliency but does not have a more direct reference to repair and construction of water storage and conveyance systems. 

“I believe we must build more water storage facilities and maintain the ones we have to protect rural economies. 

“I look forward to discussing with you the water supply needs of farmers and ranchers, who are the lifeblood of the West. 

“Congratulations again to each of the nominees. 

“I look forward to hearing your testimony.”