Interior nominee Haaland vows 'balance' on energy, climate

From WWW.NBCNEWS.COM

WASHINGTON - Oil and natural gas will continue to play a major role in America for years to come, even as the Biden administration seeks to conserve public lands and address climate change, President Joe Biden's nominee to head the Interior Department pledges.

Deb Haaland, a New Mexico congresswoman named to lead the Interior Department, said she is committed to "strike the right balance" as the agency manages energy development and seeks to restore and protect the nation's sprawling federal lands.

Biden's agenda, including the possible creation of a Civilian Climate Corps, "demonstrates that America's public lands can and should be engines for clean energy production" and "has the potential to spur job creation," Haaland said in testimony prepared for her confirmation hearing Tuesday. Haaland's remarks are intended to rebut criticism from some Republicans who have complained that her opposition to drilling on federal lands will cost thousands of jobs and harm economies throughout the West.

Haaland, 60, would be the first Native American to lead a Cabinet agency. The Laguna Pueblo member and two-term congresswoman often draws on her experience as a single mother and the teachings of her ancestors as a reminder that action the U.S. takes on climate change, the environment and sacred sites will affect generations to come.

Native Americans see Haaland's nomination as the best chance to move from consultation on tribal issues to consent and to put more land into the hands of tribal nations either outright or through stewardship agreements. The Interior Department has broad oversight of tribal affairs and energy development.

"The historic nature of my confirmation is not lost on me, but I will say that it is not about me,'' Haaland said in her prepared testimony. "Rather, I hope this nomination would be an inspiration for Americans - moving forward together as one nation and creating opportunities for all of us.''

As the daughter of a Pueblo woman, Haaland says she learned early to value hard work. Her mother is a Navy veteran and worked for a quarter-century at the Bureau of Indian Education, an Interior Department agency. Her father was a Marine who served in Vietnam. He received the Silver Star and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

"As a military family, we moved every few years when I was a kid, but no matter where we lived, my dad taught me and my siblings to appreciate nature, whether on a mountain trail or walking along the beach,'' Haaland said.

The future congresswoman spent summers with her grandparents in Mesita, a Laguna Pueblo village. "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,'' she said.

Haaland pledged to lead the Interior Department with honor and integrity and said she will be "a fierce advocate for our public la... (Read more)

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