Top 10 Questions for DOI Nominee Deb Haaland

The confirmation hearing for Representative Deb Haaland, who has been nominated for the position of Secretary of the Interior, is scheduled for Tuesday, February 23. 

The Department of the Interior is responsible for vast tracts of federal public lands and is, resultantly, among the most important departments with respect to America’s energy future. Rep. Haaland has established positions that put her nomination at odds with the long-term viability of federal lands administered by Interior, which are critical to the production of affordable and reliable energy. Lawmakers should be prepared to raise the following questions as they consider her nomination:

  1. As one of the sponsors of the 100% Clean Economy Act of 2019, you have publicly stated your support for powering the U.S. economy with 100% renewable energy and for proposals like the Green New Deal.
  1. A recent cold snap in Texas exposed, among other problems, an over-reliance on intermittent renewable energy sources. Half of the wind turbines froze, causing wind’s share of electricity to plunge from 42% to 8%. As a result, power prices in the wholesale market spiked, and millions of Texans lost power and at least twenty-three have died.
    • What lessons do you draw from the crisis in Texas?
  1. The U.S. Treasury has estimated that the Production Tax Credit that funds wind power will cost taxpayers $40.12 billion from 2018 to 2027, making it the most expensive energy subsidy under current tax law. To date, wind only contributes about 7.3% of total U.S. utility-scale electricity generation according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA.)
    • Do you think this ratio of subsidy to wind generation is a fair return on investment for U.S. taxpayers? If so, why? If not, would you support ending subsidies for wind power generation?
  1. China controls the world’s supply chain for rare earth elements and strategic and critical minerals necessary for renewable energy like solar panels, windmills and batteries. In fact, the U.S. is nearly four times more dependent on them for minerals critical for these technologies than we ever were on the Middle East for oil imports.
    • Is this impending reliance on China something that concerns you?
    • How would you consider improving this situation as Secretary?
  1. The United States federal government maintains a government-to-government relationship with the 566 federally recognized Native American Indian tribes and Alaska Native entities. As a member of the Laguna Pueblo, you are of course well-versed on the role that the Department of the Interior has in facilitating and promoting tribal self-determination. You have, however, been a critic of oil and gas development that is important to the revenues of some tribes.
    • How would you respond to tribes like the Ute Indian Tribe in Utah that have developed the oil and gas on their tribal lands using hydraulic fracturing?
    • Would you seek to end the oil and gas development on tribal land? And if so, how would you recommend tribes replace lost revenue?
  1. In 2017, you wrote that “fracking is a danger to the air we breathe and water we drink” and “auctioning off of our land for fracking and drilling serves only to drive profits to the few.”Thanks to oil and gas development, your home state of New Mexico received $2.8 billion in revenue last year, roughly a third of the state’s general funds. Of that money, a third to half came from operations on federal land. These funds are then used to support schools, build roads and support first responders.
    • Do you not consider this revenue, and the services they support, a benefit to New Mexico? 
    • How would your home state be able to make up that huge shortfall in the budget were you to eliminate oil and gas production on federal lands?
    • The Wyoming Energy Authority estimates that the West would lose $670 billion over twenty years if President Biden’s 60-day moratorium on new oil-and-gas leases were converted to a ban on oil and gas development on federal lands. What would your plan be to replace lost jobs and revenue across Western states?
  1. Along with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, you claim to have been among the thousands gathered in North Dakota to support protestors’ efforts to block the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
    • Can you summarize your interests and activities in North Dakota?
    • Approximately 24,000 tons of trash were reportedly left behind after the protest. Many protesters stayed in petroleum-based lodging like yurts and cooked and stayed warm with fossil fuel energy. Can you summarize your environmental impact during your stay for this pipeline protest?
  1. According to a Congressional Research Service report, the federal government owns roughly 640 million acres, about 28% of the 2.27 billion acres of land in the United States. Four major federal land management agencies manage 606.5 million acres of this land, or about 95% of all federal land in the United States. In addition, the U.S. owns 1.76 billion acres of offshore mineral estate, for a total of around 2.4 billion acres of mineral estate. This amount of land interest is larger than all countries in the world except Russia and Canada.
    • Do you support the U.S. government owning so much land?
    • Which levels of government—tribes, municipalities, counties, states, the federal government, etc.—do you think are best suited to manage these lands?
  1. Thanks in part to horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, the U.S. oil industry now pumps about 12 million barrels a day overall, and shale-oil companies account for about 8 million barrels of that total—roughly 8% to 10% of the global supply of oil. We are no longer reliant on unfriendly or unstable nations for its energy. Meanwhile, unfriendly foreign leaders like Russia’s Vladimir Putin have used energy as a weapon, threatening to turn off natural gas to neighboring nations like Ukraine.
    • As the child of two parents who served in the U.S. military, what is your view on energy security and responsibilities to our allies overseas?
    • If America is able to aid our allies with plentiful, affordable natural gas, what would your message to be nations like Ukraine when denying them natural gas (in the form of delivered liquified natural gas – LNG)?
  1. As a small business owner yourself, you have firsthand knowledge of the role regulations can play in when trying to keep a business afloat.
    • What is your view on the federal government’s regulatory role? What should it do, and just as importantly, what shouldn’t it do? 

For more information on Rep. Haaland’s record on energy issues, and details on positions held by other Biden cabinet nominations check out the American Energy Alliance’s database on nominees and their positions on energy topics.

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