MacGregor confirmed as Interior deputy chief
The Senate confirmed Katharine MacGregor as number two at the Interior Department.
The upper chamber voted 58-38 on Tuesday to confirm MacGregor, who was nominated by President Trump, as the department’s deputy chief and second-in-command to Secretary David Bernhardt.
Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) spoke in favor of MacGregor’s confirmation on the Senate Floor earlier on Tuesday.
“She’s well-qualified. She’s got the right experience to succeed in this role. I think she will be a fine asset for Secretary Bernhardt and the rest of the Interior team,” Murkowski said.
MacGregor, a former staffer for the House Natural Resources Committee, has faced some scrutiny after Reveal reported that oil and gas executives boasted about relying on her when running into issues with the Interior Department.
Reveal reported in November that the Independent Petroleum Association of America’s political director said during a 2017 meeting that “We’ll call Kate,” which was seen as the default solution to regulatory issues.
Reveal also reported that she helped fast-track a drilling permit that had been rejected as “incomplete” and “deficient.”
An Interior Department spokeswoman told Reveal that it has followed “all laws, rules and regulations regarding permits” since President Trump took office and that “since day one, the Department has prioritized improving the overall permitting process to tackle longstanding backlogs and delays.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) had separately placed a hold on MacGregor’s nomination amid concerns over her support for expanded offshore oil drilling.
Rubio lifted his hold after a conversation in December with Bernhardt where Rubio expressed his concern regarding offshore drilling, a Rubio spokesperson told The Hill in an email on Tuesday.
The spokesperson added that the office has been in touch with the White House regarding an offshore drilling moratorium in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and that Rubio is confident the administration will not oppose his efforts to extend the moratorium.
“I am confident that Deputy Secretary MacGregor understands Florida’s unique and vulnerable coastal character, and that most Floridians are opposed to allowing offshore drilling off of the state’s coasts,” said a statement from the senator, who voted in favor of the confirmation on Tuesday.
“I am confident that the ban on oil drilling off of Florida’s coasts will remain in place,” he added.
MacGregor has been serving as the acting Interior Deputy Secretary and was previously the department’s Deputy Chief Of Staff.
Environmentalists, however, have been critical of MacGregor.
“Her conflicted ties to industry are clear. She has been a willing accomplice to Bernhardt by doing the leg work for his former clients and special interest allies,” said Jayson O’Neill, Deputy Director of Western Values Project, in a statement ahead of the vote.