Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, March 15, 2021


Randi Spivak, (310) 779-4894,

Inspiring New Leadership at Interior Department: Senate Confirms Deb Haaland

WASHINGTON— The U.S. Senate confirmed Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) today as the next Interior Department secretary. She becomes the first Native American to hold a cabinet position and the second highest-ranking enrolled Native American in history to serve in the federal government.

“Our country’s public lands, waters and wildlife desperately need the strong, thoughtful leadership Secretary Haaland can provide,” said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “She knows we need to work quickly to address climate collapse and the wildlife extinction crisis, and we hope that includes ending fossil fuel extraction on public lands and waters. We’ll do everything we can to help her succeed in creating a livable, beautiful planet for future generations.”

Haaland will oversee a review of the federal oil and gas extraction program, which President Biden ordered Jan. 27 when he suspended new leasing. Fossil fuel production on public lands causes about a quarter of U.S. greenhouse gas pollution.

As Interior secretary, Haaland is in charge of nearly 500 million acres of public lands — 20% of the country’s land mass — including 59 national parks,129 national monuments and a dozen federal agencies. She will play a pivotal role in Biden’s directive to protect 30% of the country’s lands and ocean waters by 2030 in order to curb the wildlife extinction crisis and global warming.

A citizen of the Laguna Pueblo, Haaland was previously chair of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands. She assumes leadership of the sprawling Interior Department in an administration poised to overhaul federal land management and repair the damage caused by the Trump administration’s reckless pursuit of private exploitation at any cost.

“It’s long past time for Native American leaders to be integral decision-makers on public lands and the stewardship of nature in this country. Secretary Haaland is an inspired, inspiring choice at this crucial moment,” said Suckling.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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