President Joe Biden has made no secret of his commitment to radically redirecting the nation’s economy toward green energy, and those he has tapped to fill key roles in the administration appear fully on board with that vision.
Biden’s pick to lead the Interior Department, Rep. Deb Haaland, was confirmed by the Senate on Monday in a 51-40 vote, in a move that elicited praise from environmentalists and concern from Republicans, according to The Hill.
Haaland’s confirmation makes her the first Native American to serve in the Cabinet, and she will head the department charged with overseeing the nation’s natural resources as well as its tribal and federal heritage lands.
As Fox Business noted, from the moment her nomination was announced back in December, Haaland’s stance in opposition to the controversial fossil fuel extraction method known as fracking drew particular worry from conservatives, with the Republican Party in her home state of Mexico declaring:
It’s hard to see a bright spot for our state because of her extreme position on energy.
Biden’s pick confirms that he plans to systematically take apart our important oil and gas industry.
Republicans who voted in opposition to Haaland’s confirmation included Mitt Romney (UT), Josh Hawley (MO) and Tom Cotton (AK), while GOP Sens. Lisa Murkowski (AK), Lindsey Graham (SC), Dan Sullivan (AK), and Susan Collins (ME) voted to confirm, as The Hill further noted.
On the other side of the aisle, however, Haaland’s nomination was lauded as a highly significant moment in the nation’s history, with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) opining:
Before America’s public lands were America’s public lands, they were Native American lands, and Deb Haaland will be the first Native American to serve in any president’s Cabinet and the first to serve as the secretary of this department, so that’s kind of a wonderful harmony with history.
Adding to Republican alarm over Haaland’s potentially extreme positions on environmental issues are her stated support of Biden’s decision in January to shut down the Keystone XL pipeline and her previous co-sponsorship of the progressive Green New Deal, which she said stemmed from her experience “as a Native American woman who’s [sic] ancestral homeland is under attack from the Fossil Fuel Industry.”
Haaland’s willingness to endorse measures certain to eliminate thousands of jobs in the oil and gas industry – as was the case with the Keystone pipeline – is wholly consistent with positions taken by other members of the Biden administration, such as climate czar John Kerry, who blithely declared that those who suddenly find themselves out of work as a result “can be the people who go to work to make the solar panels.”
The degree to which Haaland’s confirmation will aid in what Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) characterized Monday as “President Biden’s war on American energy” remains to be seen, but the signs are far from encouraging.