Memos & Research

Polluter money-funded senators are lying at Haaland hearing

Feb 24, 2021

Contact: Emily Samsel,, 828-713-9647

Rep. Deb Haaland’s confirmation hearing for Interior Secretary isn’t a hearing at all — it’s, as Sen. Cantwell put it, “a proxy fight about the future of fossil fuels.” Well, we cannot have a future based on the boom-and-bust cycle of oil and gas development. Fossil fuel executives have cut 20% of their workforce since 2014 and plunged local governments into debt as the market declines, while saddling states with millions, if not billions, in clean-up costs for abandoned wells.

While Haaland spoke about her experience working across the aisle to protect our public lands and her commitment to Biden’s ambitious nature conservation agenda Tuesday — including support of protecting 30% of our lands, waters, and ocean in this country, polluter money-funded Republican senators lied about prospects for fossil fuel jobs. 

Secretary-designate Haaland’s leadership, experience and stellar record, including her 98% lifetime score on the National Environmental Scorecard, are indisputable and she must be confirmed. During today’s unprecedented second round of questioning, it’s important to acknowledge the facts.

Sen. Steve Daines – Has taken over $1.1 million in oil and gas contributions. On Tuesday, Sen. Daines questioned what jobs oil and gas workers who have supposedly lost jobs due to President Biden’s pause on new oil and gas leasing on public land could turn to. 

  • The truth is: The leasing pause will have a limited impact on day-to-day employment in the oil and gas industry. The oil industry is currently sitting on 9.9 million acres of idle leases across ten Western states. Additionally, Congress has the opportunity to create up to 24,000 new jobs, employing oil and gas workers to clean up the nearly 57,000 orphaned wells. 


Sen. John Barrasso – Has taken over $1.1 million in oil and gas contributions. On Tuesday, Sen. Barrasso said that President Biden’s oil and gas leasing pause would cost New Mexico thousands of jobs.

  • The truth is: our oil and gas leasing system is broken. It has enriched the same oil and gas CEOs funding Barrasso’s campaigns over the years while harming our majestic public lands and waters, worsening climate change, and polluting communities, especially communities of color and low-wealth communities. Importantly, we have to transition to a clean energy future — and doing so will create high-quality, good-paying union jobs.


Sen. Bill Cassidy – Has taken over $1.6 million in oil and gas contributions. On Tuesday, Sen. Cassidy asked if Haaland’s Interior Department would be guided by, “prejudice against fossil fuels or guided by science.”

  • The truth is: the science says we need to transition to clean energy. 97% of climate scientists, NASA, and the Department of Defense agree that climate change is a threat to our communities — and combating the climate crisis requires transformative investments in healthy, equitable, safe communities powered by clean energy.