500 NGOs Implore Senate Leaders to Confirm Deb Haaland for Interior; GOP Opposition Looms

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) — Washington D.C. — Representative Deb Haaland’s (D-NM) nomination for Secretary of the Interior drew formal support from a coalition of approximately 500 national and regional organizations late last week. The alliance represents millions of voters that see the unprecedented and historic nomination as a move in the right direction for the United States and the world. The NGOs, representing conservationists, political progressives, Indigenous peoples, minorities and others, signed a letter on Feb. 16, 2021, imploring Senate leadership to confirm Haaland to the position. If the Senate does so, she will be the first Indigenous person to run a Cabinet-level department in the U.S.

Haaland is a 35th generation New Mexican and member of the Pueblo of Laguna. She has served as the vice chair of the House Natural Resources Committee and chair of the National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands subcommittee. Haaland’s hearing is scheduled to be held on Tuesday, February 23, 2021, at 9:30 a.m. in Room SD-366 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.

“Representative Haaland has been a steadfast champion of bold climate action, environmental justice, and protection of public lands and imperiled wildlife,” said John Horning, Executive Director of New Mexico-based WildEarth Guardians (Guardians), in a press release. “[Her] leadership defending the Greater Chaco region from the Trump Administration’s ‘Energy Dominance’ agenda demonstrates that she’s the perfect person to fulfill [President] Biden’s promise to end new oil and gas leasing on federal public lands and waters.” Guardians is a prominent New Mexico-based environmental and wildlife advocacy organization and issued the presser to further explain its support for Halaand.

The letter, addressed to Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Minority Leader Mitch McConnel (R-KY), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Ranking Member John Barrasso (R-WY), touts Haaland’s ancestry and upbringing as a major turning point in U.S. politics, as well as a boon for responsible management of Federal and Native American lands.

There are rumblings on the Hill that Haaland’s nomination will be scuttled by Republicans. The American Independent reports that “unprecedented obstruction by the chamber’s Republican minority” has already slowed the process of confirmation for President Joe Biden’s Cabinet picks.

Presidents usually begin their term with Cabinet members in place and ready to work when the president takes office. However, hearings for Cabinet positions didn’t start until Jan. 19 because McConnell recessed the Senate for much of January, and Republicans didn’t give up control of their committee seats until Feb. 3, allowing them to delay hearings even longer. For example, in spite of a request from incoming Chairman Senator Dick Durbin (D-Il) to hold a confirmation hearing for Judge Merrick Garland for attorney general, Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who was still chairing the Senate Judiciary Committee, refused to schedule one, citing Donald Trump’s second impeachment as the reason. As of Feb. 19, only seven of 23 Cabinet members had been confirmed, and only 11 have had hearings.

Two prominent Republicans have already voiced their objections to Haaland’s nomination. After meeting with Haaland, Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) tweeted on Feb. 5 that he was concerned that her “support on several radical issues would hurt Montana, our way of life, our jobs, and rural America.” After outlining specific issues, Daines finished with “unless my concerns are addressed, I will block her confirmation.” Sen. Barrasso, the leading Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has also voiced his opposition stating that Haaland would only “encourage President Biden along the illegal and reckless path that he has begun.” Both senators have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry.

Fifteen House Republicans called for Biden to withdraw Haaland’s nomination stating she was a “direct threat to working men and women.”

The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI/Interior), by way of its ancillary and underlying bureaus and agencies, is responsible for managing 500 million acres of federal land, 55 million of which are held in trust for Native Americans. The coalition of 500 says the Trump Administration broke trust with Indigenous peoples and claims Haaland is the right person to begin the healing process, writing this in its letter:

Over the last four years alone, the previous administration routinely neglected to properly consult tribal governments before proceeding with fossil fuel development projects, land management plans, lease sales, and rulemakings that degraded air and water quality across the nation. Given DOI’s track record of failing to consult with Tribes or engage with Indigenous communities while enacting public lands policies against the better interests of Indigenous people, Rep. Haaland’s confirmation would be both an historic and much-needed step toward reckoning with a long and troubling legacy while building new, lasting, equitable achievements.

After centuries of failed promises and broken treaties, it is beyond time for the federal government to chart a new future for the relationship between land management agencies and Tribal nations. Respecting tribal sovereignty and obtaining the free, prior and informed consent of Tribes by engaging in meaningful consultation on a direct nation-to-nation basis, is imperative, and we are confident that Secretary-Designee Haaland’s experience makes her the perfect candidate to lead this change.

Haaland has been at the forefront of a national movement to protect 30 percent of lands and water by 2030 to delay the natural world’s degradation and extinction crisis. She also cosponsored a bill directing the DOI and U.S. Forest Service to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from public lands and waters.

“Secretary-Designate Haaland’s track record of stewardship allows Indigenous and Latino communities the opportunity to continue to practice the multicultural traditions reflected in our diverse landscapes, and we look forward to welcoming Secretary-Designate Haaland as a champion for equitable access to our public lands and the first Indigenous Cabinet Secretary,” said Ándrea Trujillo Guajardo, Policy Director at Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors, in a press release.

The following groups are all listed as co-signers of the letter of support:

#NoRA, 350 Butte County, 350 Colorado, 350 Conejo / San Fernando Valley, 350 Merced, 350 Seattle, 350 Silicon Valley, 350 Tacoma, 350 Triangle, 350Hawaii, 350Mono.org, 5 Gyres Institute, 7th Generation Advisors.

Accountable.US, Action Center on Race and the Economy, Active San Gabriel Valley, Alaska Wilderness League, Alaska Wildlife Alliance, All About Adventure, Alliance for Climate Education (ACE), Alliance for Latinx Leadership & Policy, Amazon Watch, American Alpine Club, American Camp Association, American Canoe Association (ACA), American Federation of Teachers, American Horse Protection Society, American Rivers, American Trails, American University, Washington College of Law, Native American Law Students Association (NALSA), American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), Americans for Indian Opportunity, Amigos de los Rios, Animal Wellness Action, Animal Wellness Foundation, Appalachian Mountain Club, Archaeology Southwest, Arizona Faith Network, Arizona Trail Association, Arroyo Hondo Land Trust, Association for Experiential Education, Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education, Atlantic Salmon Federation, Audubon Alaska, Audubon Southwest, Avid4 Adventure, Azul.

Basin and Range Watch, Bat Conservation International, Battle Born Progress, Bend the Arc Jewish Action, Berks Gas Truth, Better Path Coalition, Beyond Extreme Energy, Black Girl Environmentalist, Black Hills Clean Water Alliance, Black Millennials 4 Flint, Blue Frontier, Blue Turtle Lodge, Bold Alliance, Born Free USA, Brown Girl Surf, Bucks Environmental Action, Buffalo Field Campaign, Business Coalition for Conservation and Climate.

California League of Conservation Voters, California Native Plant Society, California Wilderness Coalition, Californians for Western Wilderness, Call to Action CO, Camp White Pine, Cascade Forest Conservancy, Cascadia Wildlands, Catholic Divestment Network, Catholic Network USCAVU, Center for a Humane Economy, Center for American Progress, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Disability Rights, Center for International Environmental Law, Center for Large Landscape Conservation, Center For Sustainable Economy, Central Colorado Wilderness Coalition, Change The Chamber, Chesapeake Conservancy, Chispa Arizona, Christians For The Mountains, Clean Air Moms Action, Clean Energy Action -Colorado, Clean Water Action, Climate Change Leadership Institute, Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy, Climate Hawks Vote, Climate Justice at Boston College, Climate Law & Policy Project, Climate Reality Project, Climate Trace, Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, Coastal Plains Institute, Colorado Businesses for a Livable Climate, Colorado Chapter – Inland Ocean Coalition, Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate, Colorado Democratic Party Energy & Environment Initiative, Colorado Farm and Food Alliance, Colorado Wildlands Project, Colorado Youth Corps Association, Common Defense, Common Ground Rising, Community for Sustainable Energy, Community Studio, Congregation Beth El, Bangor, Maine, Conservation Colorado, Conservation Lands Foundation, Conservation Law Foundation, Conservation Minnesota, Conservation Northwest, Conservation Voters for Idaho, Conservation Voters New Mexico, Conserve Southwest Utah, Continental Divide Trail Coalition, Corazon Latino, Courage California, CriticaCT League of Conservation Voters.

Dakota Resource Council Data for Progress, Decolonizing UMaine, Defend Our Future, Defend Our Health, Defenders of Wildlife, Defiende Nuestra Tierra, DemCast USA, Democracy for America Desert Survivors, Devil’s Spring Ranch, Diné C.A.R.E., DNC Environment and Climate Crisis Council, Down to Earth Storytelling.

E3 Washington, Earth Care/Poder Familiar, Earth Ethics Action, Earth Ethics, Inc., Earth Ministry/Washington Interfaith Power & Light, Earth Day.org, Earthjustice, Earthworks, EcoFlight, Ecotopia, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, Elders Climate Action, Endangered Small Animal Conservation Fund, Environmental Action Committee of West Marin (EAC), Environmental Defense Center, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Environmental League of MA, Episcopal Committee on Indian Relations, Equality California, Extinction Rebellion San Francisco Bay Area, Eyak Preservation Council.

Fairbanks Climate Action Coalition, Faithful America, Fire Drill Fridays, Florida Conservation Voters, Food and Water Watch, Fort Collins Sustainability Group, Fossil Fuel Divest Harvard, FracTracker Alliance, Freshwater Future, Friends (Quaker) Committee on Maine Public Policy, Friends and Neighbors of the Deschutes Canyon Area, Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges, Friends of Black Rock High Rock, Friends of Casco Bay, Friends of Cedar Mesa, Friends of Gold Butte, Friends of Nevada Wilderness, Friends of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, Friends of Sloan Canyon, Friends of the Amargosa Basin, Friends of the Desert Mountain, Friends of the Earth, Friends of the Inyo, Friends of the Missouri Breaks Monument, Friends of the San Juans, Friends of the San Pedro River, Inc., Friends of the WI Wolf and Wildlife, Friends of Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, Friends of Walking Box Ranch.

GASP, Georgia Conservation Voters, Gila Resources Information Project, Grand Canyon Trust, Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, Great Lakes Wildlife Alliance, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Great Old Broads for Wilderness-Bozeman Chapter, Great Old Broads for Wilderness-California Chapter, Great Old Broads for Wildernes -Grand Junction Area Chapter, Great Old Broads for Wilderness-NorCal Broads Chapter, Great Old Broads for Wilderness-NWCO Chapter, Greater Hells Canyon Council, Green America, Green The Church, Greenbrier River Watershed Association, GreenFaith, GreenLatinos, Greenpeace USA, Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy.

Harambee House, Inc., Heal the Bay, Healthy Oceans Coalition, Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hiking and the Outdoors (HECHO), High Country Conservation Advocates, Hispanic Access Foundation, Honor the Earth, Horses for Life Foundation, Howard County Democrats.

Idaho Conservation League, Illinois Environmental Council, Impact Hub Salt Lake, IndigiCANN, Indivisible, Indivisible CA-43, Indivisible San Francisco, Information Network for Responsible Mining, Inland Ocean Coalition, Inland Ocean Coalition, Washington, D.C. Chapter, Inland Ocean Coalition, Wyoming Chapter, Interfaith Power & Light, Interfaith Power & Light-Arizona, Interfaith Power & Light-California, Interfaith Power & Light-Delaware, Interfaith Power & Light-Iowa, Interfaith Power & Light-Kentucky, Interfaith Power & Light-Missouri, Interfaith Power & Light-Montana, Interfaith Power &Light-New Hampshire, Interfaith Power &Light-New Mexico, Interfaith Power & Light-North Carolina, Interfaith Power & Light-Oregon, Interfaith Power & Light-Tennessee, Interfaith Power &Light-West Virginia, International Fund for Animal Welfare, International Marine Mammal Project of Earth Island Institute, INYO350, Irving Impact.

Jamul Indian Village of California, JAPRI.ORG, Kids for Saving Earth, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Lambda Law Society, Lamirault Consulting, Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce Latino Outdoors, LEAD Agency, Inc., League of Conservation Voters, League of United Latin American Citizens, Liveable Arlington, Long Beach Alliance for Clean Energy, Los Padres ForestWatch.

Madrean Archipelago Wildlife Center, Maine Conservation Voters, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardener Association (MOFGA), Maine Rivers, Maine Unitarian Universalist State Advocacy Network, Mainers for Accountable Leadership, Malach Consulting, March For Science, Maryland League of Conservation Voters, Mattole Restoration Council / King Range Alliance, Methow Valley Citizens Council, Micronesia Climate Change Alliance, Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action, Milwaukee Riverkeeper, Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women’s Advocacy Group of North Carolina, MIT Alumni for Climate Action, MN350, Mojave Desert Land Trust, MomsRising, Montana Conservation Voters, Montana Environmental Information Center, Montana Wilderness Association, Montana Wildlife Federation, Mormon Environmental Stewardship Alliance, Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, Movement Rights, Mystic Aquarium.

National Audubon Society, National Employment Law Project, National Equality Action Team (NEAT), National Ocean Protection Coalition, National Parks Conservation Association, National Partnership for Women & Families, National Recreation and Park Association, National Wildlife Federation, National Women’s Law Center, Native American Land Conservancy, Native Movement, Native Women Lead, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Natural Resources Defense Council, Nature For All, NAVA Education ProjectNC Alliance to Protect the People and the Places We LiveNevada Conservation LeagueNew Energy Economy, New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, New Mexico Asian Family Center, New Mexico Environmental Law Center, New Mexico Sportsmen, New Mexico Wild, New Mexico Wildlife Federation, North Carolina Council of Churches, North County Watch, North Dakota Native Vote, Northcoast Environmental Center, Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness, Northern Alaska Environmental Center, Northern California Recovery Association, Northern Colorado Community Rights Network, Northern Plains Resource Council, Northridge Indivisible, Northwest Heritage Resources, Norton Bay Inter-Tribal Watershed Council, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project, NY4WHALES.

Occupy Democrats, Ocean Conservancy, Ocean Conservation Research, OceanaOceanic Preservation Society, Oil Change U.S., Operation HomeCare, Inc., Orca Network, Oregon Natural Desert Association, Oregon WildOrganic Consumers Association, Our Revolution Minnesota, Outdoor Advocacy Project, Outdoor Afro, Outdoor Alliance California.

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