Haaland makes history: she is the first Native American to hold such a high-ranking position in the United States Cabinet. It is part of 35 generations that inhabited New Mexico long before the country’s constitution. Known for being a climate advocate, she has already faced Republican pushback for the discussion around fossil fuels.
For the first time in the more than 200-year history of the United States as a country, there will be a member of its native peoples in a high position in the Cabinet. It is Debra Haaland, who this Thursday, March 18, was sworn in as Secretary of the Interior.
It is a weighty portfolio in which, among other matters, it will manage relations with nearly 600 federally recognized indigenous peoples. It will also manage control policies on some 200 hectares of federal or indigenous lands that represent a fifth of the surface of the American Union.
Haaland said Monday that she was “ready to roll up her sleeves.” That day, the Senate confirmed the appointment made by Democratic President Joe Biden. It was a vote of 51 votes to 40 and with the support of four Republican legislators.
Haaland was sworn in by another high-ranking politician, Kamala Harris, the nation’s first ever racialized female vice president. “History is being made again,” he said. And it is that already in 2018, Debra achieved another milestone by being one of the first two natives of the United States to enter Congress.
A defender of green policies against an opposition that accuses her of being “radical”
Debra, 60, is an opponent of the Keystone XL project, a pipeline that aims to transport 830,000 barrels of crude between Alberta (Canada) and Nebraska. It is an initiative that was backed by the Donald Trump administration and to which the Biden Administration has already revoked a key permit for its operation.
In addition, the new Secretary of the Interior also defends what is known as the ‘Great Green Pact’ (Green New Deal in English). It is a project promoted by Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, which was launched in 2019 with the ambitious goal of reducing America’s greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2029.
These are blistering positions in the Republican Party. During her confirmation hearing, Haaland was branded a “radical” by some members of the conservative line-up.
Senator John Barraso accused her at the time of “ignoring science,” referring to Haaland’s refusal to withdraw protection on grizzly bears in Yellowstone, despite the recommendation of a government agency that 700 of those animals already they do not need that protection.
They are tensions that seem to anticipate a conflictive horizon. In fact, Haaland’s approval margin in the Senate was the narrowest yet in Joe Biden’s administration.
With Reuters and AP
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