Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Deb Haaland!

It's still sinking in that Deb Haaland has been confirmed as Secretary of the Interior. I think in some ways I have been assuming that, once Biden nominated her, her confirmation was inevitable (the Meera Tanden outcome notwithstanding), but way too many Republican members of the Senate voted against her for bogus reasons about her "lack of qualifications." The same people who voted for who knows how many Trump appointees to the cabinet (or lifetime judicial roles!) who were abjectly unqualified. 

But a few quotes from Wyoming Senator John Barrasso got to me even worse than that. He decried Haaland for having the same policy beliefs as Biden (which kind of goes with the territory when it comes to presidential nominations... ahem, remember the past four years?), such as stopping the Keystone XL pipeline or declaring a moratorium on oil and gas leasing on public lands. 

That's what Barrasso calls "radical"—not destroying the human-habitable world with a warmed climate caused by greenhouse gases. In Barrasso's upside-down world, it's Haaland's "extreme views" on limiting greenhouse gases that would be disastrous.

He also called her support for protecting the grizzly bears in the Yellowstone area of the Rocky Mountains anti-scientific. "Rep. Haaland has chosen to ignore the science and the scientists at the very department [the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service] that she is now nominated to lead," he said. 

Of course, that doesn't include the fact that it was Trump's Interior Department leadership that made the grizzly bear decision, or that a federal judge stopped it in 2018. Given who was in charge of Interior at the time, and what we've just been hearing about interference with scientific decisions at the Centers for Disease Control, will anyone be surprised to hear that USFWS reverses that decision and staffers later speak out about how the earlier decision was made?

In the end, four Republicans voted in favor of Haaland's confirmation: Murkowski and Collins (not a big surprise), Sullivan (like Murkowski, he's also from Alaska), and Lindsey Graham. That was the only real surprise. Mitt Romney voted against her.

The vote was 51–40, with a number of both Republicans and Democrats not able to vote because they were caught in the big Rocky Mountain snow storm.

Photo from Ms. Magazine

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