Look, Shiny WONDERFUL Thing! Rep. Deb Haaland Is Biden Pick For Interior Secretary!
You want a story that should end your Thursday with a big old grin, as long as nothing too terribly 2020 happens the rest of the day? Well go read the Washington Post's very happy story about Rep. Deb Haaland (D-New Mexico), Joe Biden's nominee to be secretary of the Interior. We were pretty darn excited when, as part of the 2018 blue wave, Haaland and Sharice Davids of Kansas became the first two Native American women elected to Congress. If confirmed, Haaland would make some more history, as the Post 'splains:
A member of Pueblo of Laguna, Haaland, 60, would become the first descendant of the original people to populate North America to serve as a Cabinet secretary. It marks a turning point for a 171-year-old institution that has often had a fraught relationship with 574 federally recognized tribes.
We will now pause zero seconds for Tucker Carlson to be outraged that anyone would see that as historic.
And while New Mexico is one of the country's top producers of oil and natural gas, Haaland has pledged to make some big changes at Interior, which for too long has been a wholly owned subsidiary of the fossil fuel industry. Haaland wants to shift the department's focus to promoting green energy and mitigation of climate change. As part of that transformation, Biden has promised to stop issuing new permits for oil and gas drilling on public lands. Phasing out fossil fuel production wherever possible is key to decarbonizing; as the Post points out, "extraction of oil, gas and coal in these areas account for nearly a quarter of the nation's annual carbon output."
Yep, that's gonna piss off people who have a lot of money, and Haaland is likely to face flak not only from extractive industries but also from the assorted lunatics in the West whose magic copies of the Constitution tell them the federal government isn't allowed to own any land outside the District of Columbia and military bases.
Haaland told the Post that, coming from New Mexico, she certainly cares about energy jobs, but added, "We don't want to go back to normal, right? We don't want to go back to where we were because that economy wasn't working for a lot of people." Lots of sun and wind in New Mexico, that's for sure.
Hey, how about an antidote to that awful jerk at National Review who mocked people who think they can better themselves? Look at your new Interior secretary-designate:
Born in Arizona to a Native American mother who served in the Navy and a Norwegian American father who was an active-duty Marine, Haaland bounced between 13 public schools as the family moved between military bases. She spent summers with her grandparents in a house without running water in Mesita, one of Laguna Pueblo's small villages in New Mexico.
"As kids we moved a lot because my dad was in the service, but no matter where we were he would take us outside," she recalled. "In New Mexico we would hike in Jemez during a rainstorm, or at other military bases we would visit the ocean."
She earned her law degree from the University of New Mexico while raising a daughter, getting by on student loans, food stamps and money from a salsa-making business she started. During her run for Congress in 2018, she endeared herself to voters by noting she was still paying off student debt.
In the House, she's served as the vice chair of the Natural Resources Committee, and has introduced bills addressing the national tragedy of murdered and missing women in tribal areas. She's also introduced, with Elizabeth Warren in the Senate, the Honoring Promises to Native Nations Act, which among other measures would make funding for a number of programs touching Indigenous people guaranteed from year to year with dedicated revenues — a bit like Social Security — and not subject to the whims of the annual appropriations process, which can lead to yo-yo-ing budgets.
As the Post points out, Interior has a long history of often lousy treatment of Indigenous people, including removing them from their lands, as happened when Yellowstone became the first national park. And then there was that wonderful icon of good government, fucking racist James Watt, Ronald Reagan's Interior secretary, who infamously blamed Native American culture for poverty on the reservations:
"If you want an example of the failure of socialism," Watt said in an interview on a satellite radio show based in Tulsa, "don't go to Russia. Come to America and go to the Indian reservations."
Charming fellow. By contrast, Haaland is looking forward to fixing the federal government's relations with tribes, which got pretty bad under Trump:
"The Trump administration has not been kind to Indian country," Haaland said. "He has thrown tribal consultation essentially out the window."
And now, we can look forward to things getting not back to normal, but to way better than that.
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