On March 15, the U.S. Senate confirmed Debra Haaland to serve as the 54th Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) on a 51-40 vote. The confirmation of Secretary Haaland makes her the first Native American cabinet member in U.S. history.
During her confirmation hearing, Secretary Haaland affirmed her desire to move toward net zero carbon emissions and acknowledged that as cabinet secretary she represents the interests of all Americans. When questioned regarding Executive Order 43008 and Secretarial Order 3395, on the review and moratoria of Oil and Gas Leases, Secretary Haaland did not provide comments on the moratorium, but assured Senate and Natural Resources Committee Members that she would advance President Biden’s agenda not her personal policy objectives.
DOI’s mission area is critical to many counties as public lands are a defining feature of our nation. County governments have a critical role in policy development, planning and management of public lands. The federal government has recognized that federal land holdings are often a burden on local governments and provides funding to both compensate counties and allow them to provide the critical public services needed to access and use those lands. Counties believe that environmental and socioeconomic values must be balanced through a philosophy of multiple use management that allows diverse activities on public lands to support local economies. As such, counties call on federal agencies to coordinate their management of public lands and ensure they are consistent with local land use or natural resource management plans.
Counties are a vital part of our nation’s intergovernmental process and support continued consultation with agencies responsible for managing federal lands and waters. We look forward to our continued partnership with DOI and Secretary Haaland.
NACo will continue to monitor presidential appointments and work with our federal partners to ensure county interests are represented in federal policymaking.