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OVERNIGHT ENERGY: McEachin signals interest in Biden administration environment role | Haaland, eyed for Interior, stresses need for Native American representation | Haaland backers ask Udall to step aside in bid for Interior post

OVERNIGHT ENERGY: McEachin signals interest in Biden administration environment role | Haaland, eyed for Interior, stresses need for Native American representation | Haaland backers ask Udall to step aside in bid for Interior post
© Greg Nash

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THEY’RE PREACHIN MCEACHIN: Rep. Donald McEachinAston (Donale) Donald McEachinLawmakers commemorate one-year anniversary of Arbery's killing Lobbying world Lawmakers share New Year's messages: 'Cheers to brighter days ahead' MORE (D-Va.) is interested in a job shaping environment policy for the Biden administration. 

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In an interview with The Hill, the lawmaker said he isn't explicitly running for a gig with Team Biden, but said he would make a good bridge-builder in either the role of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator or domestic climate czar. 

McEachin said that he has not been in contact with the transition about these roles, but he and two others are reportedly being backed for the EPA role by the progressive Sunrise Movement. 

“I’m thrilled and excited about Biden’s environmental plan,” McEachin said. “If the president-elect thinks that I can help him in whatever manner, I’m certainly open to having that conversation.”

McEachin has served in the House since 2017 and has been a leading voice on environmental inequalities faced by low-income communities and communities of color. 

He said that if he were to take on one of these roles, environmental justice and helping communities transition away from fossil fuel-dependent economies would be among his priorities. 

“What I’d like to see is the opportunity to coordinate things on a domestic level to make sure that we are about the business of environmental justice, about the business of helping transitional communities, about the business of making sure that America is doing her part to reduce our climate footprint, to engage in carbon sequestration and to be a partner on the world stage,” he said.   

Biden often mentioned environmental justice on the campaign trail, releasing a second environmental plan that specifically focused on the issue. 

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That plan was formulated with the help of a Sanders-Biden unity task force, of which McEachin was a member. In it, Biden pledged to target 40 percent of the clean energy investments in disadvantaged communities and create an Environmental and Climate Justice Division at the Justice Department to enforce environmental rules. 

Read more on McEachin here

INTERIOR RACE BEGINNING TO GET REAL EXTERIOR:

An open letter… A coalition of indigenous and progressive groups is calling on Sen. Tom UdallTom UdallOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Haaland courts moderates during tense confirmation hearing | GOP's Westerman looks to take on Democrats on climate change | White House urges passage of House public lands package Udalls: Haaland criticism motivated 'by something other than her record' Senate approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee MORE (D-N.M.) to withdraw himself from consideration to serve as Interior secretary in the coming Biden administration and instead back Rep. Deb HaalandDeb HaalandOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Interior reverses Trump policy that it says restricted science | Collins to back Haaland's Interior nomination | Republicans press Biden environment nominee on Obama-era policy Susan Collins to back Haaland's Interior nomination Tanden withdraws nomination as Biden budget chief MORE (D-N.M.).

The two New Mexico lawmakers are on President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenThe West needs a more collaborative approach to Taiwan Abbott's medical advisers were not all consulted before he lifted Texas mask mandate House approves George Floyd Justice in Policing Act MORE’s short list to run the department.

While Udall would be the second person from his family to run Interior, Haaland would be the first Native American to run the agency — and serve in a Cabinet position.

“You have long been a champion for Indian Country and a leader in the fight for climate justice,” the groups wrote to Udall, vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. 

“At the same time, there has already been a Udall who has served as Secretary of the Interior — your father Stewart. It would not be right for two Udalls to lead the Department of the Interior, the agency tasked with managing the nation’s public lands, natural resources and trust responsibilities to tribes, before a single Native American,” NDN Collective, an indigenous rights group, Sunrise Movement, a youth climate organization, Data for Progress and Justice Democrats wrote in the letter.

The letter says that a second Udall at Interior is not “what you or your father have stood for in your tireless advocacy for strong Native representation at all levels of government.”

Udall's office did not immediately respond to request for comment to The Hill.

Haaland, asked for comment on the letter, called Udall a dear friend and colleague.

"I am grateful for everything that he has done for New Mexico and Indian Country. No matter who President-elect Biden chooses to lead any one of his cabinet posts, I will work hard to make sure his administration is successful,” she said in a statement.

Biden has been under increasing pressure from progressives and Native American groups to select Haaland as he seeks to form a Cabinet that “looks like America.”

Biden is also weighing Michael Connor for the role. Connor was Interior’s first Native American deputy secretary and served for the last three years of the Obama administration. 

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An open secret… Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) on Friday stressed the importance of having Native American representation in government — nodding to the role she could play in a Biden administration that has come under increased pressure to select her to lead the Interior Department.

“I think it's wonderful that our country is progressing in that manner, that a Cabinet-level position filled by a Native American is a conversation that we're having right now,” Haaland said in a Washington Post Live event.

If selected to lead the Interior Department, Haaland would be the first Native American to hold a Cabinet-level position.

She would also be in charge of an agency that has often fallen short in its responsibilities to tribes.

Haaland specifically called out the Trump administration for building the border wall along lands sacred to Native Americans and for shrinking national monuments of importance to tribes such as Bears Ears.

“We have to include Native Americans in the conversation because this was all Indian country at one time,” she said. “They deserve to be consulted when decisions about our public lands are made. We've seen that play out in real time during this administration and what happens when you don't consult tribes.”

But Biden is also weighing another Native American, Obama-era Interior Deputy Secretary Michael Connor, for the job.

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Haaland dodged the question, however, when asked if Connor's potential appointment would carry the same significance.

“What I’ll say is I worked extremely hard to make sure that Joe Biden won this election. And I am going to support whoever President-elect Biden chooses for any Cabinet position, it'll be my job in Congress, or wherever I am to make sure that this administration is a success. And I'm committed to that,” she said. 

Read more on the letter here and Haaland’s comments here

HOT TAKES:

“It is unconscionable that a Native American has never served in the Cabinet. That should change now,” former Obama Cabinet official Julian CastroJulian CastroMore than 200 Obama officials sign letter supporting Biden's stimulus plan OVERNIGHT ENERGY: McEachin signals interest in Biden administration environment role | Haaland, eyed for Interior, stresses need for Native American representation | Haaland backers ask Udall to step aside in bid for Interior post Julian Castro announces relaunch of 'Adios Trump!' shirts to raise money for young immigrants MORE wrote on twitter.

WHAT WE’RE READING:

Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOvernight Energy: Interior finalizes plan to open 80 percent of Alaska petroleum reserve to drilling | Justice Department lawyers acknowledge presidential transition in court filing | Trump admin pushes for permits for men who inspired Bundy standoff Trump administration pushes for grazing permits for men who inspired Bundy standoff Interior secretary tests positive for COVID-19 after two days of meetings with officials: report MORE’s official portrait, as dissected by HuffPost

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