Barrasso Remarks at Business Meeting on Department of the Interior Nominations

May 27, 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 business meeting to consider the nominations of:

  • Mr. Robert T. Anderson to be solicitor of the Department of the Interior;
  • Ms. Shannon A. Estenoz to be assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks; and
  • Ms. Tanya M. Trujillo to be assistant secretary of the Department of the Interior for Water and Science.  

To watch the full business meeting, click here. 

Senator Barrasso’s remarks: 

“Today, our committee will vote on three nominations to the Department of the Interior.

“The nominees are Robert Anderson to serve as solicitor, Shannon Estenoz to serve as assistant secretary for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, and Tanya Trujillo to serve as assistant secretary for Water and Science. 

“If confirmed as solicitor, Mr. Anderson will issue the final legal interpretations on all matters within the jurisdiction of the department. 

“This will give Mr. Anderson enormous power to shape how the department fulfills its mission. 

“The solicitor’s decisions directly impact homes and businesses in Wyoming and throughout the United States. 

“They can make or break our nation’s ability to protect our environment, enjoy and utilize our natural resources, and create good-paying jobs.  

“As principal deputy solicitor, Mr. Anderson has revoked many solicitor’s opinions issued under the Trump administration and paved the way for Biden administration policies that are in conflict with the department’s multiple-use mandate.

“Mr. Anderson’s actions have demonstrated that he may not be fully constrained by the laws as Congress has them.

“For example, Mr. Anderson’s response to questioning by Senator Cassidy during his nomination hearing was very concerning. 

“In April, Mr. Anderson withdrew solicitor Daniel Jorjani’s legal opinion that the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act requires the secretary to implement an offshore oil and gas leasing program consisting of no fewer than two leases. 

“Senator Cassidy asked Mr. Anderson to explain this decision. 

“Mr. Anderson stated that ‘there is a leasing program in effect’ and there are areas ‘under lease now and leases that have been available.’ 

“Senator Cassidy asked whether he agreed that the requirement to ‘maintain’ a leasing program meant to ‘lease some more… not just maintain the leases that we’ve already leased… but to continue leasing.’ 

“Mr. Anderson responded that he thought it was an open question. 

“To suggest that the secretary is no longer required to plan for and hold new offshore oil and gas leases sales ignores the law. 

“Let me be clear: the secretary is required to comply with the law and hold new leases sales. 

“Mr. Anderson seems ready to put the Biden administration’s war on American energy ahead of following established law. 

“I cannot support Mr. Anderson’s nomination. 

“Ms. Estenoz has been nominated to serve as assistant secretary of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks.  

“She will oversee the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service – both of which are critical to my home state of Wyoming. 

“She is a problem solver with a history of strong bipartisan cooperation. 

“I look forward to working with Ms. Estenoz on a number of important issues. 

“They include enhancing access to our public lands, delisting fully-recovered species from the endangered species list, and improving the Moose-Wilson Road Corridor in Grand Teton National Park. 

“I will support her nomination. 

“Finally, Ms. Trujillo has been nominated to serve as assistant secretary of Water and Science.  

“She will oversee the Bureau of Reclamation and the United States Geological Survey. 

“I look forward to working with her to prioritize improving the Bureau of Reclamation’s aging water projects and building new water storage systems to address the threat of drought.  

“I believe she is qualified, has a good reputation of working to address issues important to the West. 

“I will also support Ms. Trujillo’s nomination.”