Haaland on drilling lease moratorium: ‘It’s not going to be a permanent thing’
Interior Secretary nominee Deb Haaland said on Wednesday that President Biden’s pause on new oil and gas leasing is a temporary measure and won’t be a “permanent thing.”
“This pause … It’s just that, it’s a pause. It’s not going to be a permanent thing where we’re saying we’re restricting all these lands from something,” Haaland said in response to a question on the moratorium from Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah).
The White House last month put a temporary pause without a set end date on granting new leases for publicly owned lands and waters for oil and gas drilling.
The Interior Department has continued to issue new permits on public lands that are already leased, though it instituted a temporary elevated review process, and it has also not stopped current drilling activity.
However, when Biden was on the campaign trail, he pledged to ban new permits for oil and gas on public lands and waters.
Haaland is currently awaiting a confirmation vote, and she needs to win over moderates like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) so that she can get confirmed.
She has faced scrutiny from conservatives over her progressive viewpoints like opposition to fracking.
Her comments on Wednesday came during her second day of questioning by senators as they consider her nomination.
During the hearing, Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) asked Haaland about Biden’s stated goal of conserving 30 percent of lands and waters by 2030 and whether that pertains to all U.S. lands or just public lands.
Haaland, who introduced a similar resolution in the House last year, said the initiative is “not just relegated to public lands.”
“The 30 by 30 initiative that President Biden has embraced will be an opportunity for so many Americans to participate in conserving that amount of land and water,” she said.
Haaland also faced several questions about positions she took as a lawmaker, but stressed that representing one part of the country as a member of Congress is different from leading a Cabinet department.
“The role of Cabinet secretary is far different from that of a congresswoman,” she said during the hearing. “I’m not just worried about my one district in New Mexico, but the entire country.”