BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — President Joe Biden has nominated a longtime environmental advocate and Democratic aide to supervise the huge expanses of federally-owned land in western states — the most recent political appointment elevating issues amongst Republicans as Biden strikes to curtail power manufacturing 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 a couple of quarter-billion acres (100 million hectares) and one-third of the nation’s underground minerals, together with big reserves of oil, pure fuel and coal. The company regulates drilling, mining, grazing and different actions and is about to play a key position in Biden’s dedication introduced Thursday to chop local weather warming emissions from fossil fuels by half by 2030.
Stone-Manning, 55, spent the previous 4 years on the National Wildlife Federation, the place she led the group’s efforts to protect public lands for wildlife, mountain climbing, looking and different non-industrial makes use of.
She beforehand labored as chief of employees to Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, as an aide to Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester and three many years in the past as a spokesperson for the activist environmental group Earth First.
If confirmed, Stone-Manning would serve beneath 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 fuel business. The White House dropped plans to put in 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 passed off over a lot of President Donald Trump’s appointees — solely now it’s environmentalists and progressive activists beneath scrutiny versus the business lobbyists favored by Trump.
Stone-Manning opposed Trump’s drilling-friendly insurance policies as harmful to public lands and stated in 2019 that the Republican’s agenda had thrown the stability between conservation and improvement “out of whack.”
Haaland stated in a press release 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 coverage adviser for Indian affairs at Interior beneath former President Barack Obama.
A spokesperson for Montana Sen. Steve Daines, who sought unsuccessfully to dam Haaland’s nomination, stated Republicans could be wanting carefully at Stone-Manning’s years as an environmental activist and her ties to conservation teams that poured cash into the 2020 election.
“We’re digging through and looking at her record and history on these types of issues,” stated Katie Schoettler.
Daines, she stated, desires to make sure federal lands stay open for each conservation and power improvement.
National Wildlife Federation CEO Collin O’Mara stated he has recognized Stone-Manning since she led Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality for two years starting 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 stated. “Her track record is really balanced throughout her career, especially over the last 20 years.”
The land administration bureau’s director put up went unfilled for 4 years beneath Trump, who as an alternative relied on a string of appearing administrators to execute a loosening of restrictions on business. Chief amongst them was conservative lawyer William Perry Pendley, who earlier than he took the place advocated for promoting off federal lands.
Pendley was ordered eliminated by a federal decide after main the bureau for greater than yr with out required Senate affirmation and getting sued by Montana’s governor.
Stone-Manning lined up with Bullock in that battle and sharply criticize Pendley as an unlawful appointee who “thumbed his nose at a federal judge” by staying on on the bureau after his authority was eliminated.
Montana Petroleum Association director Alan Olson, who labored with Stone-Manning on a local weather council established by Bullock, described her as extremely smart and “left of center” however not excessive in her politics and prepared to hearken to opposing views.
But Olson added that he expects her to get as a lot pushback from Republicans as Trump appointees obtained from Democrats and their allies together with Stone-Manning.
“Tracy went after Pendley. She can expect the same,” he stated.
Follow Matthew Brown on Twitter: @MatthewBrownAP