Politics Biden taps Montana environmentalist for US public lands boss
Why Biden is making more progress on economic than social issues
The magnitude of the economic proposals that President Joe Biden may pass through Congress this year is drawing legitimate comparisons to Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal and Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society.But Biden simultaneously faces the prospect that almost all of his legislative initiatives revolving around social, cultural and racial equity issues, from immigration to gun control and LGBTQ rights, could die in the Senate.
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — President Joe Biden has nominated a longtime environmental advocate and Democratic aide to oversee the vast expanses of federally-owned land in western states — the latest political appointment raising concerns among Republicans as Biden moves to curtail energy production from public reserves.
Tracy Stone-Manning of Missoula, Montana was nominated on Thursday to direct the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management, which has jurisdiction over about a quarter-billion acres (100 million hectares) and one-third of the nation’s underground minerals, including huge reserves of oil, natural gas and coal. The agency regulates drilling, mining, grazing and other activities and is set to play a key role into cut climate warming emissions from fossil fuels by half by 2030.
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Stone-Manning, 55, spent the past four years at the National Wildlife Federation, where she led the group’s efforts to preserve public lands for wildlife, hiking, hunting and other non-industrial uses.
She previously worked as chief of staff to Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, as an aide to Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester and three decades ago as a spokesperson for the activist environmental group Earth First.
Montana Democrats sue over new voting laws
Montana Democrats filed a lawsuit against the state just hours after the governor signed two new bills into law that created new restrictions on registering to vote and casting ballots.Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) signed two bills on Monday: House Bill 175 that ends same-day voter registration and Senate Bill 169 which changes accepted IDs and requires some voters to present two forms of ID at their voting location, CNN reports.Election lawyer and founder of the progressive advocacy group Democracy Docket, Marc Elias, announced hours later that a lawsuit had been filed on behalf of Montana Democrats.
If confirmed, Stone-Manning would serve under Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, a former Democratic congresswoman from New Mexico who was confirmed over opposition from Republicans citing her criticisms of the oil and gas industry. The White House dropped plans to install progressive Elizabeth Klein as deputy Interior secretary following objections from Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin.
The confrontations resemble political fights that took place over many of President Donald Trump’s appointees — only now it’s environmentalists and progressive activists under scrutiny versusfavored by Trump.
Overnight Energy: Biden will aim to cut US emissions in half by 2030 | Oil and gas leasing pause on public lands will last at least through June
Happy Wednesday! Welcome to Overnight Energy, your source for the day's energy and environment news.Please send tips and comments to Rachel Frazin at email@example.com . Follow her on Twitter: @RachelFrazin . Reach Zack Budryk at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @BudrykZack . Signup for our newsletter and others HERE. Today we're looking at the Biden administration's emissions goals for the decade, the next step in the administration's goals on gas and oil leasing, and a Democratic proposal that would overhaul energy tax credits.
Stone-Manning opposed Trump's drilling-friendly policies as destructive to public lands and said in 2019 that the Republican’s agenda had thrown the balance between conservation and development “out of whack.”
Haaland said in a statement that Stone-Manning and Bryan Newland — whom Biden nominated Thursday to be assistant secretary for Indian affairs — would “help lead the Interior Department’s efforts to pursue a clean energy future, engage Tribal communities and governments, and protect our land, waters and wildlife habitats for generations to come.”
Newland was tribal president of the Bay Mills Indian Community in Michigan and served as a policy adviser for Indian affairs at Interior under former President Barack Obama.
A spokesperson for Montana Sen. Steve Daines, who sought unsuccessfully to block Haaland's nomination, said Republicans would be looking closely at Stone-Manning's years as an environmental activist and her ties to conservation groups that poured money into the 2020 election.
“We’re digging through and looking at her record and history on these types of issues,” said Katie Schoettler.
Biden's first 100 days: Where he stands on key promises
WASHINGTON (AP) — As he rounds out his first 100 days in office, President Joe Biden’s focus on reigning in the coronavirus during the early months of his administration seems to have paid off: He can check off nearly all his campaign promises centered on the pandemic. Biden has delivered on a number of his biggest campaign pledges focused on climate change and the economy as well. But some issues have proven to be tougher for the administration — including immigration, where Biden is grappling with how to enact promised reforms in the face of a steep increase in unaccompanied minors seeking to cross the border. On some of his promises, Biden is waiting for Congress to act.
Daines, she said, wants to ensure federal lands remain open for both conservation and energy development.
National Wildlife Federation CEO Collin O'Mara said he has known Stone-Manning since she led Montana's Department of Environmental Quality for two years beginning in 2013 and considers her a “common-sense conservationist.”
“I think Tracy understands the way we manage our public lands isn't an either or choice," he said. “Her track record is really balanced throughout her career, especially over the last 20 years."
The land management bureau's director post went unfilled for four years under Trump, who instead relied on a string of acting directors to execute a loosening of restrictions on industry. Chief among them was conservative lawyer William Perry Pendley, who before he took the position advocated for selling off federal lands.
Pendley was ordered removed by a federal judge after leading the bureau for more than year without required Senate confirmation and getting sued by Montana's governor.
Stone-Manning lined up with Bullock in that fight and sharply criticize Pendley as an illegal appointee who “thumbed his nose at a federal judge” by staying on at the bureau after his authority was removed.
Montana Petroleum Association director Alan Olson, who worked with Stone-Manning on a climate council established by Bullock, described her as highly intelligent and “left of center” but not extreme in her politics and willing to listen to opposing views.
But Olson added that he expects her to get as much pushback from Republicans as Trump appointees got from Democrats and their allies including Stone-Manning.
“Tracy went after Pendley. She can expect the same,” he said.
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Biden set to acknowledge ground-shaking history of the last year in first speech to Congress .
When President Joe Biden delivers his first address to Congress on Wednesday, two of the past year's ground-shaking events will be hard to ignore. © Evan Vucci/AP President Joe Biden speaks about COVID-19, on the North Lawn of the White House, Tuesday, April 27, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) The room where he'll deliver it is exactly where a riot of would-be insurrectionists tried to prevent him from becoming president. And for the first time in history, a pair of women will be seated on the rostrum -- and both will be wearing face masks.