What some groups in Alaska are saying about the new US Secretary of the Interior

Published: Mar. 16, 2021 at 7:39 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The next U.S. Secretary of the Interior is former Rep. Deb Haaland, a Democrat representing New Mexico.

The Senate voted 51-40, making her the first Native American to run a Cabinet department and the first to lead the federal agency.

During her career, Haaland has been clear about lowering fossil fuels and opposing the expansion of oil and gas drilling on public land.

“As I’ve learned in this role, there’s no question that fossil energy does and will continue to play a major role in America for years to come. I know how important oil and gas revenues are to fund critical services,” Haaland said. “But we must also recognize that the energy industry is innovating, and our climate challenge must be addressed.”

Alaska’s News Source spoke with two groups in the state to find out their thoughts about Haaland and what her new position could mean for Alaska.

Bernadette Demientieff is the executive director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee and she fights every day to protect state land.

“I think she is going to do a lot of good. I am so, so proud of her. I’m so thankful for all the senators that voted for her,” Demientieff said. “I just want to say thank you, because you don’t know what you have done. You have made history, one, but most of all you put an amazing woman in there that is going to help save Mother Earth and many, many people’s lives.”

Alaska’s News Source also spoke with Kara Moriarty, the president and CEO of Alaska Oil and Gas Association.

She said they look forward to the opportunity to work with her but have some reservations.

“It’s very historic, and we look forward to working with her. Obviously some of her comments about oil and gas give us pause, that she has made through her career, and as a representative in Congress, but that just shows us we have an opportunity to work with her and her staff and her team at DOI to educate her about how Alaska really does it right,” Moriarty said.

Haaland took the oath of office during a small ceremony on Tuesday. Her first full day on the job is Wednesday.

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