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Today the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources is holding a hearing to consider the nomination of Rep. Debra Haaland (D-N.M.) for Interior Secretary. Below is a statement from Earthworks Board Member Casey Camp-Horinek,  Elder and Environmental Ambassador for the Ponca Nation of Oklahoma.

“As an Indigenous woman, Debra Haaland understands what it means to have a spiritual connection to the land. Her confirmation as Interior Secretary will restore respect and reverence for Mother Earth. She also understands the United States’ legacy of genocidal policies against Indigenous people. We must have the courage to acknowledge and face this legacy. It cannot be undone, but it can be addressed. As Interior Secretary, Ms. Haaland would be uniquely positioned to make more just and equitable public land use decisions, especially for mining and drilling activities impacting Indigenous peoples.

“That could involve strengthening environmental protections and reversing some decisions made in the Trump administration that allow mining and drilling in sensitive areas. After confirmation, we hope Interior Secretary Haaland would improve public oversight of mining and make permanent the Administration’s oil and gas leasing pause.

“Many treaties between tribes and the US government include the phrase ‘as long as the waters flow and the grass grows.’ These words are sacred promises from our ancestors to our future generations. Under Ms. Haaland’s leadership, we can begin to make these promises real for everyone who shares this, our land. The Senate should confirm Ms. Haaland without delay.”

Brendan McLaughlin, (206) 892-8832, bmclaughlin@earthworksaction.org