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Biden Pick To Head The Bureau Of Land Management Is Closer To Confirmation


The Public Lands Agency oversees 245 million acres and a lot of energy development. President Biden's pick to lead that agency has moved one step closer to being confirmed despite strong Republican opposition. Colorado Public Radio's Caitlyn Kim is following this one.

CAITLYN KIM, BYLINE: Tracy Stone Manning, who currently works for the National Wildlife Federation, has come under fire for her ties to a radical environmental group when she was a graduate student in 1989. She sent a letter warning that spikes had been put into trees in a national forest in Idaho. It's a tactic radical environmental groups used to stop logging and could potentially injure loggers. She testified against the men who spiked the trees. Senators debated what that means in a committee hearing yesterday.


JIM RISCH: Did she write the letter?

JOE MANCHIN: She did not write the letter. She typed the letter.

RISCH: Oh, she typed...

MANCHIN: She didn't write the letter.

RISCH: Did she deliver the letter to the United States Forest Service? The answer to that is yes, she did.

MANCHIN: The letter was mailed, OK?

RISCH: She mailed it to the United States...

MANCHIN: So you're saying that was her words that she mailed.

RISCH: That's a participation in a conspiracy.

KIM: That was Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Senator Jim Risch of Idaho. Stone Manning supporters say Republicans are seizing on the long-ago incident to try to disqualify her. Aaron Weiss is with the conservation group, The Center For Western Priorities.

AARON WEISS: No, this is truly about the future of our public lands. And are we going to manage ecosystems? Or are we going to treat our public lands simply as landscapes to be extracted?

KIM: The head of the Western Energy Alliance said the letter-writing incident should put Stone Manning's ability to lead the BLM in question. She characterized the nominee as hostile to productive uses of public lands. Aaron Weiss says that's not true and points to Stone Manning's track record of bridge-building. Some who initially supported Stone Manning but no longer do worry that this ongoing fight in the Senate could weaken Stone Manning when the agency needs a strong leader. The BLM hasn't had a confirmed director since the Obama administration. And that, says John Gale with Backcountry Hunters And Anglers, is his concern.

JOHN GALE: There's a lot of work that needs to be done. And it's important that we get a qualified leader in place there.

KIM: The committee vote deadlocked along party lines. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says he will move Stone Manning's nomination to the Senate floor, but no date has been set.

For NPR News, I'm Caitlyn Kim in Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Caitlyn Kim