Interior Secretary Nominee Haaland Faces Tough Questions On First Day Of Confirmation Hearings

By Mark Brodie
Published: Wednesday, February 24, 2021 - 1:22pm
Updated: Wednesday, February 24, 2021 - 4:07pm

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Confirmation hearings started Feb. 23 in the U.S. Senate for Deb Haaland, President Joe Biden’s pick for Interior Secretary.

The Department manages nearly a half-billion acres of public lands, a tenth of which is Native American land, as well as the water, natural resources and recreational parks contained on those spaces — including more than 40% of Arizona lands, which are federally-owned.

If confirmed, Haaland would be the first Native American cabinet secretary.

The nomination carries historic significance, but Haaland faced sharp questioning, largely over the issue of fossil fuels.

Her her record of bipartisanship seemed to win over some members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. And the fact that Haaland would be the first American Indian to serve as a Cabinet secretary has tribal communities watching closely. Debbie Nez-Manuel, a Navajo who lives in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Community, thinks Haaland did a good job of conveying her willingness to work with others, and should have enough votes to secure the nomination.

"When we hear the outcome of this I’m going to make sure I pull my children together and enjoy that moment in history where things are going to be about them. And I think that’s going to be very exciting," Nez-Manuel said.

Arizona freshman Sen. Mark Kelly asked for Haaland’s thoughts on expanding reservoir capacity, water recycling and groundwater management for Colorado River states.

For more about how Haaland’s first day of hearings went, The Show spoke with Darryl Fears, a reporter covering environmental justice for the Washington Post.

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Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez (left) with Deb Haaland.
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