Congresswoman Haaland Confirmed As U.S. Department Of The Interior Secretary

Mar 15, 2021

Today, March 15, Congresswoman Debra Haaland (D-NM-1) was confirmed as the first-ever native American Interior Secretary by a vote of 51 to 40 in the U.S. Senate.

The vote follows earlier approval by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources which voted 11-9 in support of Haaland. Senator Lisa Murkowski, (R-AK) paved the way for approval by joining all the committee’s Democrats during the vote. “I have decided to support this nomination . . . to support the first Native American who will hold this position, with the expectation that Rep. Haaland will be true to her word,” Murkowski said. “Not just on issues related to Native peoples but also responsible resource development.”

Why it matters:

One important part of President Biden’s policy agenda is to address Climate Change and he will use all federal departments, including the Department of the Interior as tools toward that goal. As part of those efforts, Biden has established a program entitled, “30 by 30” which aims to protect 30% of U.S. lands and coastal seas by the year 2030.

As the newly confirmed Interior Secretary, Haaland will have to "strike the right balance" as the agency manages energy development and seeks to restore and protect the nation's sprawling federal lands.

In testimony at her confirmation hearing, Haaland said “. . . America's public lands can and should be engines for clean energy production . . . and have the potential to spur job creation." Those remarks were intended to rebut criticism from some Republicans who have complained her opposition to drilling on federal lands will cost thousands of jobs and harm economies throughout the West.

RV Industry Impact:

The U.S. Department of the Interior oversees management of 84 million acres of National Parks Service (NPS) lands and 245 million acres managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The agency also oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, among other bureaus and offices.

Fortunately for the RV community, Haaland understands why outdoor recreation is so important As a member of Congress, she led the charge on the Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation (SOAR) Act, a bill to cut bureaucratic red tape that prevents Americans from accessing outdoor spaces. She also supported the historic Great American Outdoors Act last session, which provided much-needed funding for public lands and waters.

The RV Industry Association has and will continue to work closely with NPS staff on major campground modernization initiatives such as the Second Century Campground Strategy. The Association also provided significant comments on how to best meet the needs of today’s RVers and RVs for the National Parks Service’s initiative to modernize the NPS campgrounds. Integral to the recommendations from the RV Industry was the incorporation of the NFPA 1194 Standard for Recreational Vehicle Parks and Campgrounds into any federal campground standards. This recommendation appeared to be well received and Association staff will continue to provide updates as the federal campground modernization initiative moves forward.