All in for Haaland
By now you’ve probably heard that the U.S. Senate confirmed former Congresswoman Deb Haaland as Secretary of the Interior. The bipartisan vote on March 15, 2021 emplaced our nation’s 54th executive at the Interior Department, only the third woman appointed to the post, and the first ever Native American to serve on a presidential cabinet. The Biden administration has promised new, innovative and progressive policymaking, and that begins with the people the president chooses to lead his government.
Welcome, Secretary Haaland.
Even as certain politicians delayed her confirmation to grandstand on behalf of fossil fuel interests, nobody can question Haaland’s bona fides for Interior. The new Secretary is an inspiring, visionary and thoughtful leader. She is admired for her inclusive approach to resource management, always considering impacts to local and disadvantaged communities, cultural resources, climate change and future generations. Her vision shines throughout her “30 x 30” Congressional resolution urging the federal government to conserve 30 percent of our nation’s lands and waters for biodiversity and climate resiliency by 2030. The Biden administration has now adopted 30 x 30 as its national conservation platform.
Haaland is also an experienced policy wonk, both willing and able to dig into the complex morass of federal law, policy and programs to sort out the best way to balance management with conservation and restoration of public lands, waters and wildlife. In Congress, she proposed updating the woefully outdated 1872 General Mining Act with needed environmental and community protections. She recommended that Congress certify national monuments to shield them from presidential meddling like we witnessed under the last administration. She has promoted thoughtful planning of energy infrastructure, while also advocating for permanent protection of our most sensitive public lands and irreplaceable cultural sites.
The 70,000 public servants who work at dozens of Interior bureaus, agencies and offices should be relieved to have Haaland at the helm. The last administration misled, undermined and simply ignored the department and its mission, to the detriment of natural resources and our climate, dependent communities and relations with tribal nations. The new Secretary promises to bring both new direction and caring concern for the people, agencies and resources in her charge–and just in time to take on some of the most critical conservation challenges in our nation’s history.
In Oregon’s high desert, we’re excited for how Secretary Haaland’s policy agenda might preserve wilderness, recover imperiled species, connect habitats, and conserve climate refugia. Opportunities abound in our far corner of the Sagebrush Sea, where visionary, inclusive decisive leadership could do wonders for this inimitable, inestimable landscape.