OVERNIGHT 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
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HAAL-IN ON HAALAND
Setting the stage… Just as Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), President Biden’s Interior secretary pick, was set to testify before the Senate, former Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) warned that any accusations of political radicalism were “motivated by something other than her record.”
The two argued that Haaland’s record on environmental issues is typical of a Democratic member of congress from a western state and that they had similar records in Congress that would be unlikely to prevent their confirmation.
“Rep. Haaland’s nomination is both historic and long overdue. If confirmed, she would be the first Native American Cabinet member,” the two former senators wrote.
Read more on the op-ed here.
Courting the moderates… Interior Secretary nominee Haaland sought to court moderates while facing tough questions during her confirmation hearing on Tuesday.
Haaland, a progressive House Democrat from New Mexico who has expressed support for the Green New Deal and opposition to a controversial oil and gas extraction method called fracking, emphasized her bipartisan record while making the case for her confirmation.
She was introduced by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who noted that he disagreed with her on fossil fuels but stressed that “she will listen to you.”
The nominee faced forceful opposition from Republicans who questioned Haaland on fracking, fossil fuels and a tweet in which she said that Republicans don’t believe in science.
Her main point: Haaland also repeatedly noted, while answering questions on her fossil fuel stances, that she will be implementing President Biden’s agenda, not her own.
In her own opening statement, Haaland stressed finding a “balance” between fossil fuels and fighting climate change.
“There’s no question that fossil energy does and will continue to play a major role in America for years to come. I know how important oil and gas revenues are to fund critical services,” her prepared statement said.
“But we must also recognize that the energy industry is innovating, and our climate challenge must be addressed,” Haaland added.
She said during the hearing that if confirmed, her top priorities will be appreciating career employees, promoting clean energy and clean energy jobs and working on broadband internet and missing and murdered indigenous women in Indian Country.
Read more on the hearing here.
TALKING TREES, 1 TRILLION AT A TIME
Rep. Bruce Westerman (Ark.), the new top Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee, is emphasizing the planting of trees as part of a nature-based approach to climate change, an issue that is likely to be divisive as Democrats and the Biden administration look to take major steps to reduce U.S. emissions.
Republicans have been on defense over climate change in some respects — Democrats have slammed them as a party standing against science, an argument that appeared to help the party make gains among suburban voters as Democrats gained seats in the 2018 midterm elections and the White House in 2020.
Westerman wants Republicans to have a positive agenda to counter Democrats, even as the GOP also readies familiar arguments that President Biden’s climate change policies such as revoking the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline and suspending new leases for drilling on federal lands would harm the economy.
“I think we’ll see a good cross-section of legislation that’s aimed at sequestering carbon,” Westerman said of the committee this session.
Read more on our sit down with Westernman here.
ONE BILL LONG BUT EIGHT BILLS DEEP
The White House released a policy statement on Tuesday saying the administration “strongly supports” a House package aimed at protecting lands and waters in Arizona, Colorado, California and Washington state.
The legislation, called the Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act, combined eight bills that have previously been introduced. It is expected to receive a House vote this week.
Altogether, the legislation would provide extra protection to about 1.5 million acres of public lands by designating them as wilderness, preventing new uranium mining on about a million acres near the Grand Canyon and preserving 1,000 river miles by adding them to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, according to the Natural Resources Committee.
The White House statement said the bill “puts in place protections for some of our nation’s most iconic natural and cultural resources and safeguards recreational opportunities for the benefit of current and future generations, while creating jobs and investing in the recreation economy.”
Read more about the legislation here.
ON TAP TOMORROW:
-The Haaland vetting will go into Day 2 with the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee
-The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing titled “Building Back Better: Investing in Transportation while Addressing Climate Change, Improving Equity, and Fostering Economic Growth and Innovation.”
WHAT WE’RE READING:
As Cities Grapple With Climate Change, Gas Utilities Fight To Stay In Business, NPR reports
Mills expresses ‘grave concern’ over plans to protect North Atlantic right whales, The Portland Press Herald reports
Annapolis sues 26 oil and gas companies for their role in contributing to climate change, The Capital Gazette reports
ICYMI:Stories from Tuesday…
GOP’s Westerman looks to take on Democrats on climate change
Haaland faces contentious confirmation fight
Three threatened giraffes electrocuted in Kenya
Haaland courts moderates during tense confirmation hearing
Udalls: Haaland criticism motivated ‘by something other than her record‘
White House urges passage of House public lands package
Four board members of Texas electric grid operator to resign
FROM THE HILL’S OPINION PAGES:
Without planning, climate change will bring more Texas-style blackouts, writes Romany Webb, an associate research scholar at Columbia Law School, and Michael Panfil, director of federal energy policy and a senior attorney at Environmental Defense Fund.