Audubon Alaska supports the historic nomination of Representative Deb Haaland (D-NM) for Secretary of the Department of Interior. She will be one of only three woman to hold this position. And, she will be the first Native American to hold any cabinet position, including the Secretary of Interior position, which oversees much of the land management activities on federal lands that impact millions of Native American and Alaska Native communities across the country. The Secretary of Interior plays an incredibly important role in Alaska, where over 60% of the land is federally managed. Plus, Alaska is home to 226 Tribes, more than any other state in the country.
Deb Haaland is a voice for the people, having come from her seat on the U.S. House of Representatives, where she has led committee hearings on land and water issues. She led the efforts in Congress to build a framework for 30 x 30—the idea that conserving 30% of lands and waters across the U.S. can support international efforts to protect important places in the face of climate change. She serves on diverse committees in the U.S. House of Representatives that illustrates her commitment to people and the environment, from the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition to the Equity Caucus.
Most important, Deb Haaland has lived with the impacts of federal land management decisions and understands the outsized role the federal government maintains in how our collective lands and waters are managed. She grew up on the lands of the Laguna Pueblo Nation in New Mexico. Decades of oil and gas drilling and a long history of mining scatter across the landscape, causing long term human health issues in communities. Many companies ignore their requirements to clean up old industrial sites, from abandoned wells to wastewater facilities. Deb Haaland knows firsthand what decisions on federal lands do to surrounding communities, and she advocates for the involvement of communities, Tribes, in decision-making processes instead of trying to undermine the voice of the public in federal land management decision-making.
If confirmed as Secretary of Interior, Deb Haaland will take a seat most recently filled by David Bernhardt, a lifelong oil and gas industry lobbyist with ties to many of the fossil fuel companies that make money from drilling on federal lands. He led an effort to actively suppress the voices of the public and ignored the input from Tribes on federal land management decision-making. His department even suppressed voices from within its own agencies, taking a dictator’s approach to managing lands that were given to all the people of this country. Deb Haaland would be a voice not only for all the people, but also the first peoples, the original stewards of our federal lands and waters. To us, these are the most important credentials for anyone leading the Department of Interior.
Read the official press release issued by National Audubon Society here.