Conflict of Interest Issues Arise as Sec. of Interior’s Daughter Lobbies for Moratorium on Oil and Gas Leasing
Meanwhile, Haaland announces new steps to hasten solar energy development on public lands in the West.
When the history of the Biden administration is written, it will be exceedingly difficult to determine which of his appointments have been most destructive to this nation.
One of the leading contenders must be Biden’s Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. The last time we checked in on her team of social-justice-focused, eco-activist-oriented bureaucrats, they walked back the required auctions for gas and oil leases necessary to this nation for its energy industry.
Now a significant conflict-of-interest issue has arisen as her daughter, Somah Haaland, is lobbying federal lawmakers to support a moratorium on oil and gas leasing near a historical site in New Mexico.
Somah Haaland – who is a media organizer for the Pueblo Action Alliance, a cultural and environmental group in New Mexico – traveled to Capitol Hill alongside a group of fellow climate activists, according to the environmental group WildEarth Guardians. The activists argued that drilling near the Chaco Culture National Historical Park in northwestern New Mexico would cause irreparable damage to local communities and the environment.
…In addition to lobbying lawmakers, the activists screened a film narrated by Somah Haaland that “showcases the threats” posed by oil and gas leasing in the region,” according to the WildEarth Guardians. Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., and Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez, D-N.M., attended the screening along with “agency officials.”
Meanwhile, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a subagency within Secretary Deb Haaland’s Department of Interior (DOI) that is tasked with managing nearly 250 million acres of federal lands, is expected to soon finalize a rule acceding to activists’ demands. Earlier this month, the agency closed a comment period for its proposal to withdraw 351,500 acres of public lands within 10 miles of the Chaco site for 20 years.
And while Haaland seemingly won’t permit fossil fuel development in the West, she is actively promoting the use of these lands for solar energy installations.
Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland on Monday announced new steps to accelerate solar energy development on federal land in the West, a move that could further incentivize renewable energy development on Nevada’s vast public lands.
During a visit to the Sonoran Solar Energy Project in Arizona – a project on public lands expected to power 91,000 homes – Haaland announced a new process to develop a West-wide solar plan that will kick start the Biden administration’s plan to permit at least 25,000 megawatts of renewable energy on public land by 2025 as part of the Energy Act of 2020.
The new process is meant to identify areas with high solar potential and low conflict potential in order to “guide responsible solar development and provide certainty to developers.”
In addition to the absurd level of conflicted interest, concerns have surfaced about if solar energy is environmentally friendly. Residents around New York’s Fort Edward Grasslands have questions about a proposal for a solar project in that habitat.
GBT [Grassland Bird Trust] is concerned that renewable energy developer Boralex’s proposed 100-megawatt solar facility on 750 acres in Fort Edward and Argyle will harm this scarce habitat.
According to GBT, more than 100 species of birds breed, winter or migrate in the grasslands in Fort Edward, Argyle and Kingsbury. A winter resident, the short-eared owl, is endangered in the state. Once New York’s most common owl, the population is down to only 50 breeding pairs statewide. Ten other birds that winter or breed there are threatened.
There’s very little science on the effect of ground-mounted solar panels on birds, [Katherine Roome, a GBT board member] said. Small birds like the Henslow’s sparrow, eastern meadowlark, bobolink, and sedge wren, all threatened in New York, may be able to forage and nest in the grass under the rows of panels and their posts.
By contrast, raptors like the short-eared owl and state-threatened northern harrier and American kestrel hunt by sight and fly low over the ground. Roome called it “highly doubtful” that the birds can dodge the panels and still capture their prey.
“We’ll be the test case for how grassland birds live with solar panels,” Roome said. “We don’t want our birds to be used as lab rats.”
I hate to break it to Roome, but we are all being used as lab rats under the current administration in some form or fashion.
Here’s hoping our energy industry and wildlife survive until more competent and America-focused policymakers are in place.DONATE
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