President Biden’s candidate to become Interior Secretary, Rep. On Tuesday, Deb Haaland faced a flurry of questions about her support of the radical Green New Deal, her anti-fracking stand, and her earlier remarks about Republicans at a heated Senate confirmation hearing, including casting doubt on their confidence in science.
In her opening speech, Haaland, a New Mexico Democratic congresswoman, said she will support Biden’s views on the atmosphere and added that she thinks it is possible to find a “balance” between the use of fossil fuels and the need to combat climate change.
“There’s no question that fossil energy does and will continue to play a major role in America for years to come. I know how important oil and gas revenues are to fund critical services,” she told the senators.
“But we must also recognize that the energy industry is innovating, and our climate challenge must be addressed.”
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), the ranking Republican on the Senate and Energy Resources Committee, confronted Haaland about a tweet she posted in October 2020 in which she said GOP lawmakers don’t believe in science.
Barrasso, a surgeon, asked her: “Do you think that as medical doctors we don’t believe in science? How do you stand by this statement?” Barrasso asked.
“Senator, yes, if you’re a doctor, I would assume that you believe in science,” she responded.
For much of the session, his line of questioning set the tone when Haaland sought to cater to more mainstream Republicans, but also to Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia right-leaning Democrat, who told her he needed to see coal mining’s’ evolution not removal.’
On the Keystone XL pipeline, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) pressed her to ask if her Interior Department “would be guided by a prejudice against fossil fuels, or would it be guided by science?”
“Senator, if I could just take the liberty of saying prejudice on fossil fuels perhaps isn’t the way that I would describe it. I would say that President Biden is moving toward the tremendous opportunities that we have in diversifying our energy resources,” said Haaland, who if confirmed would be the first Native American cabinet secretary.
It will be responsible for maintaining all the natural resources of the nation, including oil, gas and clean coal, and public and tribal lands in excess of 500 million acres.She will also be in charge of making good on the pledges made by Biden to reduce the nation’s dependency on fossil fuels and produce more sources of renewable energy.
Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) pounded her, like Barrasso, for her advocacy for the Green New Deal, supported by Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and asked her what she wanted to say to the thousands who lost their fossil fuel business jobs.“I believe there are millions of jobs in a clean energy future,” Haaland, who has said she “wholeheartedly supports the Green New Deal, responded. “If we can all work together I think we can do it all. I think we can protect our public lands and create jobs.”
She emphasized during questioning that she would implement the policies of the president and not her own personal beliefs.
When Daines asked her if she supported a ban on fracking and the elimination of oil and gas pipelines, Haaland said, “President Biden does not support a ban on fracking is my understanding.”
Pressed further, she said: “If I am confirmed as secretary, I would be serving at the pleasure of the President and it would be his agenda that I would move forward.”Haaland, 60, a member of the Laguna Pueblo reservation, said her grandparents taught her to respect the environment while growing up in New Mexico.
“It was there that I learned about our culture from my grandmother by watching her cook and by participating in traditional feast days and ceremonies,” Haaland said in her opening statement.
“It was in the cornfields with my grandfather where I learned the importance of water and protecting our resources, and where I gained a deep respect for the Earth.”
Her confirmation hearing will continue on Wednesday.