WASHINGTON, December 18, 2020 – President-elect Joe Biden announced that he will nominate Congresswoman Debra Haaland (D-NM), an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Laguna people who currently serves as Vice Chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources, to lead the Department of the Interior.

The following statement is from Kelli Garcia, Policy Counsel with SPLC Action Fund:

We celebrate Congresswoman Debra Haaland’s historic nomination to be the first Native American Cabinet Secretary, as well as the first-ever Native American to lead the Department of the Interior. She has already shown herself to be a strong advocate for public lands and protecting our planet.

This selection demonstrates the Biden administration’s commitment to facing climate change head-on, and ensuring that communities of color are in positions to shape the policies that most directly impact them and their families.

Haaland’s confirmation would strengthen efforts to address the environmental racism and injustices that have flourished under the outgoing Trump administration, which not only refused to seriously combat climate change and embrace green energy but rolled back clean water protections and more than 100 environmental rules.

The incoming administration will also gain a fierce advocate for natural resources and public lands in Haaland, as well as a policy expert who respects the history and needs of Indigenous people from whom those lands were stolen. Her knowledge will directly affect the issue of restoring and protecting tribal lands, as well as efforts to remove all symbols of white supremacy or racism from public lands once and for all.