MEMO: Senate Climate Deniers Are Foot Soldiers in Attack on Haaland

TO:             Interested Parties
FROM:      Lori Lodes, Climate Power Executive Director
RE:             Senate Climate Deniers Are Foot Soldiers in Attack on Haaland

Almost as quickly as President Joe Biden announced his nomination of Deb Haaland for Secretary of the Interior – and who will sit for her nomination hearing on Tuesday – there were climate deniers in Congress and outside oil and gas allies fear-mongering and spreading lies about her strong record. 

As you’re reporting on these attacks, it is vital to remember that these criticisms are not good-faith arguments or criticisms of Haaland. Instead, it’s a desperate attempt by the oil and gas lobby and their allies in Congress who benefit from fossil fuel campaign donations to label her as “radical” for protecting our nation’s natural resources and stop any progress on climate action.

Haaland, an enrolled member of the Laguna Pueblo, is both a historic and exceptionally qualified nominee for the Department of Interior where her responsibility will be to manage our nation’s public lands and oversee relationships with our 574 American Indian and Alaska Native tribal communities. Haaland will help advance President Biden’s climate and economic agenda that will create millions of good-paying union jobs, uphold Tribal Sovereignty, and put the peoples’ right to clean air and water before the profits of oil and gas companies. 

Below are some important facts to remember as climate-denying Senators will be questioning and attempting to weaken Haaland’s nomination next week: 

The oil and gas lobby views Haaland as a threat to their profits and that desperation is driving the worst attacks on her nomination.

  • The oil and gas lobby has given millions of dollars to many of the Republican politicians who in turn are now serving as messengers to spew anti-climate talking points, including a group of 15 GOP Representatives who led a failed attempt to pressure Biden to withdraw Haaland’s nomination.
  • Senator Daines, one of the loudest voices spreading Big Oil’s false attacks, received $1,204,278 from oil and gas over the course of his career, including $583,320 in just the 2020 cycle. Daines also has a record of attacking women of color.
  • Congressman Stauber, who received $73,461 from oil and gas last year, is advocating for Big Oil’s interests instead of the interests of his Indigenous constituents. Leaders of the five Ojibwe nations in Stauber’s district recently expressed outrage that Stauber was leading the attacks on Haaland, a nominee who has both historic and real-world implications for Tribal Sovereignty. 
  • While Big Oil pretends to care about Black and Brown lives, they make their money at the expense of these communities and give tons of money to politicians who will ignore their environmental racism while attacking the first Indigenous Cabinet nominee. A 2020 report by Global Witness found that Chevron quadrupled political funding to candidates with failing civil rights grades.

Haaland has the experience to lead the Department of the Interior, enabling her to hit the ground running while working with Tribal and frontline communities in a historic way. 

  • Haaland has broad support, including from nearly 500 groups representing Indigenous, environmental justice, Western communities, and outdoor businesses backing her nomination. The letter states, “As Vice-Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee and Chair of the National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands subcommittee, Rep. Haaland is a proven leader and the right person to lead the charge against the existential threats of our time – tackling the climate, extinction and COVID-19 crises, and racial justice inequities on our Federal public lands.”
  • The fight against COVID-19 requires a strong leader like Haaland, who understands “the interdependence of healthy ecosystems and human life.” At Interior, Haaland will play a vital role in the fight against COVID-19 and future pandemics by restoring public lands and transitioning to a clean energy economy that will reduce the pollution that exacerbated COVID symptoms, especially for communities of color. 
  • In Congress, Haaland has been a strong voice for Tribes. Haaland investigated the social impacts of the oil and gas industry on New Mexico, including missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and the sexual exploitation of Indigenous women and girls. 
  • Haaland knows how the West lives and will be a champion for real people. Throughout her career, Haaland spent time with families in rural, agricultural, and ranching communities – including her own. Her sister and family are cattle ranchers, and she has participated in their work. She understands the business and challenges. 
  • Under Haaland’s leadership, the U.S. will finally be able to make good on treaties with Tribal communities. Haaland is committed to Tribal sovereignty and will ensure Tribal communities have a seat at the table when it comes to issues under the purview of the Interior, including “land management plans, lease sales, and rulemakings that degrade air and water quality.” 
  • Haaland has been a leading advocate to protect our public lands.  In 2017, Haaland led the fight to protect the Bears Ears monument – home to thousands of Indigenous ancestral sites – when Trump opened the area up to oil and gas energy exploration.

Deb Haaland has a record of accomplishments in the House and has worked with both Democrats and Republicans to serve her constituents. 

  • Haaland was a leading voice fighting for public lands. As Chair of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands, Haaland worked with her colleagues to shepherd the Great American Outdoors Act, which provided guaranteed full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, to the House floor for a successful bipartisan vote. 
  • Haaland has strong relationships and records of accomplishments with Republican lawmakers. She worked with Senators on both sides of the aisle to deliver COVID-19 funding for Tribes. Haaland built meaningful relationships with Republican and Democratic House and Senate members to seek common ground on outdoor recreation, missing and murdered Indigenous women, and military housing protections. 
  • Haaland has already made progress to ensure the U.S. upholds its Sovereign Treaties. Successfully led the passage of the PROGRESS for Indian Tribes Act, which will enhance the ability of tribes to enter into, and carry out, compacting agreements. 
  • Haaland is familiar and works with local communities. Her deep relationships with  Tribes, stakeholders, outdoor recreation groups, hunters, anglers, and conservation groups on policy issues within the jurisdiction of the Interior, including the maintenance backlog, the outdoor recreation economy, and Tribal consultation is an undeniable asset for the agency.