Accountable.US President Kyle Herrig was joined by Chair Raúl M. Grijalva, Congresswoman Sharice Davids, and Corley Kenna of Patagonia

The panel outlined how the Senate Republicans who have threatened to reject the confirmation of President Biden’s Interior secretary, Congresswoman Deb Haaland, have taken millions of dollars from Big Oil, and the implications slowing down this process has on adequately addressing climate change 

Washington, D.C. – Today, Accountable.US President Kyle Herrig was joined by Chair Raúl M. Grijalva and Representative Sharice Davids, as well as Corley Kenna, head of Patagonia’s global communications and public relations, in a press call to discuss the opposition to Congresswoman Haaland, President Biden’s pick for Interior secretary, by Republican senators tied to the oil industry. Congressman Grijalva, as the Chair of the Natural Resources Committee, shared his experience working closely with Rep. Haaland and highlighted the need for a strong advocate for all voices, public lands, wildlife, and environmentalism at Interior. Congresswoman Davids was sworn in alongside Rep. Haaland in 2018 as the first two Native women elected to the House, and offered her insight as the Vice Chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus on the need to confirm Rep. Haaland. Corley Kenna explained why Patagonia is supporting Haaland and called out the oil and gas industry for distorting the truth on their environmental and economic impact.

“It’s hard to overstate how significant Congresswoman Haaland’s confirmation as Interior secretary would be. She would be the first Native person to serve in a Presidential Cabinet in our country’s history, and for the first time, give a voice to the 574 federally recognized tribal nations at the federal level… Senate Republicans need to stop fighting for Big Oil and instead fight for the people they were elected to represent. They must work with Democrats to quickly confirm Haaland and let her get to work tackling the climate crisis that threatens us all.” said Accountable.US President Kyle Herrig.

“Let’s be clear: Deb Haaland’s confirmation is going to be historic, and it will happen. The opposition to her confirmation from some senators is nothing new. Republican Senators have experienced various stages of denial and avoidance to delay and undermine an adequate national and federal response to addressing the consequential issue of climate change. Representative Haaland is going to do something about it, and they know it. I think as Senators listen to and have the opportunity to hear from Haaland directly, they will understand she brings with her the capacity and ability to do this job well, no question. The department’s leadership over the last four years has suffered greatly. Our public lands are a shared asset, and it’s time we start acting like that. It’s time we start addressing climate change through our actions at the federal level. The opposition to Congresswoman Haaland’s confirmation is narrow and guided by money, not the qualifications or historic importance of what the nomination of Deb Haaland will do for this country,” said Chair Raúl M. Grijalva.

“Long before she was sworn in as a member of Congress, Deb Haaland has been advocating for the environment and for tribal nations. The Department of the Interior is so important, and it should be run by someone who has actually been affected by the department on a personal level, and who will fight for all Americans, not just the wealthy and well-connected. Deb will bring a much-needed voice for tribal communities to the table. She’s also a strong environmental champion with a track record for earning bipartisan support from her colleagues in the House. These attacks, waged against her by some of the closest allies to Big Oil, are nothing more than an attempt to protect their special interests’ bottom line in Congress. These senators know that she will finally stand up to Big Oil, and this terrifies them,” said Congresswoman Sharice Davids. 

“Senator Barrasso receives more money from the oil and gas industry than any other sector. More people in Wyoming are employed by the outdoor recreation industry than the oil and gas sector. So when Senator Barrasso says he is opposed to Rep. Haaland’s nomination based on job loss, it rings pretty hollow. And Senator Daines, who was reelected just last year after repeatedly promising the people of Montana that he cared deeply about public lands, says he can’t support her because she wants to protect public lands! The extractive industries have also been exceptionally effective in confusing communities about the science and realities of what happens when we take from nature. They distort the truth around the often-deadly footprint that their businesses leave behind and the jobs that they create.  We need to set the record straight on jobs: The outdoor industry supports 6.1 million jobs – compared with 2.1 million jobs supported by the oil and gas industry,” said Patagonia’s Corley Kenna.  

Prior to her hearing, certain Senate Republicans have already announced their plan to reject Haaland as Interior secretary, and have tried to paint her as “radical.” This argument falls flat given the wide range of bipartisan support for her nomination, including Republican Congressman Don Young of Alaska, and her bipartisan track record in the House. The real reason these senators are opposed to Haaland’s nomination is because their Big Oil donors demand it. Key members of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) are deep inside the pockets of Big Oil, including Ranking Member John Barrasso (R-WY), who has taken over $1.17 million from the oil and gas industry. Steve Daines, one of Haaland’s most vocal opponents, has taken nearly $1.2 million, and said the quiet part out loud by admitting to opposing her confirmation because she’d be bad for the oil, gas, and coal industry. This morning, Accountable.US released a report showing how the oil and gas industry bankrolls Senate Republicans on the ENR Committee and in turn does their bidding in Congress.

Climate scientists project that we only have a few years left to take action on climate change or risk irreversible damage to the environment. We need an Interior secretary in place to get to work tackling the climate crisis and undoing the four years of damage caused by the Trump administration and their catering to the oil industry. It’s time for an Interior secretary who will put people and public lands over special interests, and who will finally bring a voice to the Native communities who for too long have been ignored by the government. Congresswoman Haaland is our chance to do that, and Senate Republicans need to put the people they were elected to represent before their special interest donors. Senate Republicans must work with Democrats to quickly confirm Haaland and let her get to work tackling the climate crisis that threatens our very existence. 


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