FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Congresswoman Deb Haaland’s Nomination for Department of the Interior Secretary Signals Historic New Direction

SANTA FE – With the nomination of U.S. Representative Deb Haaland as Secretary of the Interior, President-elect Joe Biden has signaled an historic shift in the direction the agency will take.

President Trump’s two Department of the Interior appointees, who each faced ethics investigations, enacted policies that rolled back environmental protections and opened up millions of acres of public lands for oil and gas drilling permits and coal mining. In the most notorious case, Secretary Ryan Zinke oversaw the largest rollback of public lands protections in the country’s history, including the massive reduction in size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments established under the Obama administration.

“The fact that Representative Haaland and several other potential nominees all come from New Mexico is not surprising to us who live here. New Mexico is the state that embodies the mission and goals of the Department of Interior,” said Conservation Voters New Mexico Executive Director Demis Foster. “We have extraordinary biodiversity and a vast network of public lands and cultural heritage sites. We also have some of the most polluting oil and gas development and a critical abandoned well and mine problem on our public lands.”

“Representative Haaland, if confirmed, will be the first Indigenous person to lead the Interior Department,” continued Foster. “She will bring her community-centered connection to land and water to her leadership role in ways that fully embody New Mexico’s  deep-rooted values. Her nomination signals the Biden administration’srecognition of the need to truly engage and consult with the tribes and pueblos on land decisions and acknowledge that we are all occupying Indigenous lands.”

Other New Mexicans who had been under consideration for the post – U.S. Senator Tom Udall, who is retiring, and U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich – are also strong conservationists who have pursued policies based on science and understand the intersection of racial and economic inequities with environmental issues.

“President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris are showing that they are true conservation champions who are centering their transition plans on climate action and environmental justice,” said Foster. “This is a hopeful time again for the country and I am confident that these nominees and their policies will represent the diversity of our country and put us on a sustainable and equitable path forward.”

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Contact

Demis Foster, Executive Director | demis@cvnm.org or 505.795.1242

Michael Jensen, Communications Director | michael@cvnm.org or 505.362.1063

CVNM is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization connecting the people of New Mexico to their political power to protect our air, land, and water for a healthy Land of Enchantment. CVNM does this by mobilizing voters, winning elections, holding elected officials accountable and advancing responsible public policies.