Indian Country Today

Democratic Rep. Deb Haaland of New Mexico will continue to testify for her nomination to become the next secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Haaland, Laguna and Jemez Pueblos, answered second round of questions for more than two hours from a bipartisan group of 20 senators on the Senate Committee of Energy and Natural Resources Wednesday.

Here are the updates from Wednesday’s hearing:

12:19 p.m.

The hearing has concluded. Senators have until 6:00 p.m. EST to submit additional questions for the record.

12:15 p.m.

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska asks Haaland if she will meet with the people of King Cove, Alaska.

Haaland: "Senator, absolutely."

Murkowski says the community was cut off from a major runway that does not allow them to get to safety in inclement weather.

12:01 p.m.

Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana asks Haaland if she will keep the Bureau of Land Management headquarters in Grand Junction, Colorado.

Haaland: "I don't have any intention, at this moment of changing things but I am not there [at Interior] yet."

11:58 a.m.

Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming asks Haaland if she will commit to delist species on the Endangered Species Act that have fully recovered.

Haaland says she will seek partnerships with stakeholders about the issue.

Barrasso raises his voice, "I'm talking about the law!"

11:50 a.m.

Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon asks Haaland about water on tribal lands.

Haaland recalls that her grandma didn't have running water until 1975. "I learned early on how to conserve water because when you're hauling buckets of water ... You don't want to spill a drop of it."

Wyden closed out with: “Not only am I going to support you, but I'm going to speak for you on the floor of the Senate because I think you have made the case beyond a doubt that you'll be there for rural jobs. You'll do it in a way that isn't divorced from protecting our treasures which is in my part of the world. We want jobs and environmental protection. We see two sides of the same coin. I think you get it.”

11:44 a.m.

Republican Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas asks Haaland about voluntary conservation and how one measures success of the Endangered Species Act.

Haaland reiterates that she will listen to the science to ultimately help species recover.

11:37 a.m.

Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi asks Haaland about her views to create affordable energy for Americans.

Haaland responds saying that having a diversity of energy resources will help in times of severe weather that may cause power lines to go down.

11:36 a.m.

11:24 a.m.

Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma asks Haaland about her views on the Endangered Species Act, specifically how or if species can "graduate" off of the list.

Haaland says she will work with scientists who manage the list in the future.

11:22 a.m.

11:18 a.m.

Republican Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota asks Haaland to commit to consulting with the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation about how the Dakota Access Pipeline affects its livelihood.

Haaland: "I would absolutely consult with tribes when issues are affecting them."

11:16 a.m.

11:10 a.m.

Sen. Murkowski asked Haaland about Alaska Native corporations, as they work with the legal framework given to them by the federal government 50 years ago. Murkowski asked Haaland to explain the tribal representation in Alaska.

“I know that Alaska is a unique situation with the Alaska Native corporations. I understand that there are also 229 Native Alaskan Native villages within those regions,” Haaland said. “Yes, they're not they're not like any other corporations that when we think of corporations so I understand that's important of course I am. I am not a scholar of Alaska, but with your help, I will absolutely learn more and absolutely willing to make sure that Alaska Native people, whether through the Alaska Native corporations or any other organizations get the services that they need.”

11:05 a.m.

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska asked if Haaland, “If you're confirmed, will you will you commit to allowing the willow project to proceed without additional changes or environmental review, recognizing the trajectory that this project has been on, and your role to be an impartial arbiter of permitting decisions on Willow and other similar projects?”

Haaland: “A we've mentioned before I think being a secretary is far different from being a member of Congress, and so I do take that role very seriously if I'm confirmed, I will absolutely consult with you, I understand how important your state is to you, and, and I just want you to know that the opportunities to speak with you on these issues the opportunities to speak with Alaska Native corporations and Alaska Native people will be absolutely important, and I appreciate that opportunity. And of course I will follow the law. I know that permitting is moving forward currently in the department, and I will take it very seriously well it is, this is not just about important to me, this is important to the state for jobs, these are important to Alaska Natives.”

11:00 a.m.

Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawai’i asks Haaland what motivates her to be Interior secretary.

Haaland: "This is all of our country, this is our mother ... It's difficult to not feel obligated to protect this land."

10:55 a.m.

Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana asks Haaland about how she plans to source raw materials for renewable energy.

Haaland says the U.S. needs to mine responsibly, adding, "This earth provides us with every single thing we need, and it has for millennia."

10:45 a.m.

Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington asks Haaland to commit to make infrastructure investments for various national parks including New River Gorge and Mount Rainier.

Haaland responds: "Absolutely will, Senator Cantwell. Thank you."

Sen. Cantwell finished up her questioning with: “There are people in Indian Country, all over the United States that are so proud of her nomination and they are, I don't even know how we can explain adequately enough, how much they are tuning in and, and looking at this moment, they feel like they've been good stewards of public land for centuries before us. And so, they are so excited about her nomination.”

10:42 a.m.

Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah asks Haaland about the potential extending of boundaries of national monuments.

Haaland says there are many stakeholders in this matter and "I would be honored to get everyone together and talk about these issues."

10:38 a.m.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez tweeted, “#DebForInterior We’re standing behind you and praying for you”

Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, White Earth Nation, also showed her support. 

10:35 a.m.

Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming asks Haaland if she will advise President Biden to extend a 60 day ban on oil and gas leasing.

Haaland says she will work to strike the right balance by protecting public lands for future generations while also aiming to produce jobs.

10:30 a.m.

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia asks Haaland to conduct a review of the process to existing leases on oil and gas companies.

"I agree with you that a review is a good idea," Haaland says.

10:25 a.m.

Native people like San Carlos Apache Tribal Chairman Terry Rambler continue to show their support for Haaland.

10:15 a.m.

Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho asked Haaland if she supports shutting down the Keystone pipeline a few times. Haaland told him she supports Biden’s agenda. He continued to ask her.

“If I say that I support President Biden's agenda, I assume that you could take my answer as a yes thank you,” Haaland said.

Risch continues to ask why she wants to shut down the Keystone XL pipeline.

“I'm not sure that I have a full answer for you other than to say that I know that there are a lot of people in this country who care deeply about our environment and that is one area that folks have been passionate about. I know there's a lot of passion on both sides of the issue,” she said.

“One of the reasons I'm pressing you on this is I'm having real trouble reconciling that with the fact that we can't get the administration to move to shut down the Nord Stream two pipeline,” Risch said.

10:10 a.m.

Two senators who didn't ask a first round of questions will continue the hearing with their questions.

Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Arizona, added several letters of support from Arizona tribal leaders to the record. Kelly focused his questions on water in the southwest, water settlements and uranium mines.

He asks Haaland about her views of water recycling in Colorado River states. Haaland says, "It's important for us to think about ways we can conserve water."

9:49 a.m.

— — —

WHAT TO LOOK FORWARD TO ON DAY TWO

Rep. Deb Haaland faced sharp questions from Republicans Tuesday over what several called her “radical” ideas including her opposition to fracking and the construction of several controversial pipelines.

Haaland will likely face similar pointed questions from Republicans on Wednesday during the second day of her Senate confirmation hearings in Washington, D.C. Her testimony before the Senate energy and natural resources committee was extended another day after questioning Tuesday lasted nearly 2 ½ hours.

Wednesday’s hearing is slated to begin at 10 a.m. EST and will be livestreamed on the committee’s website. Haaland will not be giving an opening statement.

The Senate energy committee is made up of 20 members, with all members evenly split by party.

It is not yet clear how some senators will vote to process her nomination, with some vocalizing support to have her lead the sprawling federal agency while others including Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana says he is “concerned” about processing her nomination.

Other Republicans including Sen. Lisa Murkowksi of Alaska seemed unclear about how she will vote.

It is likely days after the hearing Wednesday, the committee will host a business meeting to officially decide how to process Haaland's nomination. The committee has four options. It can report the nomination favorably, unfavorably, without recommendation or it can choose to take no action.

On Tuesday, Haaland pledged to lead the Interior Department with honor and integrity and said she will be "a fierce advocate for our public lands."

She promised to listen to and work with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle and ensure that decisions are based on science. She also vowed to "honor the sovereignty of tribal nations and recognize their part in America's story.''

Some Democrats and Native American advocates called the frequent description of Haaland as "radical" a loaded reference to her tribal status.

"That kind of language is sort of a dog whistle for certain folks that see somebody who is an Indigenous woman potentially being in a position of power," said Ta'jin Perez with the group Western Native Voice.

Related Deb Haaland coverage:
Day One: Deb Haaland questioned on drilling, pipelines
A historic run, support for ‘Auntie Deb’
#DebForInterior: 'We are ready to make history'
Deb Haaland's hearing is Indian Country's Obama moment
What to know about Deb Haaland’s confirmation hearing
Montana senator says he'll 'block' Deb Haaland's Interior nomination

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.