Energy & Environment

Senate panel advances Biden’s deputy Interior pick

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The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to advance President Biden’s nominee for the No. 2 spot at the Interior Department, Tommy Beaudreau.

The panel voted 18 to 1 to advance Beaudreau’s nomination, with only Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) voting against.

Beaudreau, a lawyer and former Obama administration official, was widely expected to get some bipartisan support, as he’s seen as a moderate compromise after the White House pulled its initial pick for the post.

The Senate panel’s top Democrat and Republican, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), both praised Beaudreau in speeches before the vote Thursday.

Manchin said the nominee has the “knowledge, the experience, the temperament and the skills” for the job, while Barrasso said that Beaudreau “has the first-hand appreciation of the benefits that energy production on public lands affords to millions of Americans.”

The GOP senator also said that Beaudreau could serve as a “voice of reason” in the department. 

However, Beaudreau has faced some criticism from progressive groups, who have pointed to his work for French oil giant Total and multinational mining company BHP. 

Asked about the criticism during his confirmation hearing, Beaudreau said he was “a little bewildered” by some of it because of “what I believe was a very strong track record during the Obama administration on conservation.”

His nomination came after the White House dropped its support for Elizabeth Klein, now a senior counselor to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, for the role after reported concerns from Senate moderates that she was too progressive. 

Beaudreau previously held several roles at Interior under the Obama administration, including serving as the first director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

Tags Deb Haaland Interior Department Joe Biden Joe Manchin John Barrasso Mike Lee Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee

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