Katie Britt and four AL House members sign letter opposing EPA emissions mandates

U.S. Senator Katie Britt joined Representatives Barry Moore, Gary Palmer, Jerry Carl, and Robert Aderholt, joined more than 150 of their colleagues, in a bicameral letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan urging the Biden Administration to overturn its de facto electric mandate on trucks, tractors, buses, and semis. The final rule, “Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards for Heavy-Duty Vehicles – Phase 3,” was published on April 22, 2024. According to the Rule Summary on EPA website, “The new standards will be applicable to HD vocational vehicles (such as delivery trucks, refuse haulers, public utility trucks, transit, shuttle, school buses, etc.) and tractors (such as day cabs and sleeper cabs on tractor-trailer trucks).” Numerous consumer and trade groups oppose the rule. The American Trucking Associations Chief Advocacy and Public Affairs Officer Ed Gilroy said, “The American Trucking Associations opposes EPA’s GHG3 rule in its current form because the post-2030 targets remain entirely unachievable given the current state of zero-emission technology, the lack of charging infrastructure and restrictions on the power grid.” The bicameral letter warned, “This rule will harm our families and businesses, increases our gas prices, and makes us more dependent on foreign supply chains – particularly China.” “Our farmers and agricultural industry will be especially hurt by this new mandate. According to the latest agriculture census by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there are 3,161,820 trucks (including pickups) on over 1.4 million farms and 3,784,743 tractors on over 1.5 million farms that would see higher equipment costs and tighter margins due to this misguided rule. These numbers also do not account for the small, independent truckers, trucking companies, and truck dealerships throughout the U.S. that will be impacted. Not only would this rule harm consumers, but it would also exacerbate consolidation by effectively forcing our small trucking companies out of business that cannot afford this hasty transition to electric or hydrogen powered trucks,” the lawmakers wrote. “[W]e urge you to withdraw your final rule that is both unrealistic and burdensome,” the lawmakers continued. “This rule will only further increase costs for American families, businesses, and rural communities while fueling more inflation. We need to give Americans a choice in the cars and trucks that they drive, and affordability and performance for the trucking industry is paramount.” Britt’s office released a statement calling her a “strong proponent of preserving consumers’ freedom to choose gas-powered vehicles.” Earlier this year, Britt joined Senator Tommy Tuberville and another large bicameral group of lawmakers in a letter calling for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Deputy Administrator to rescind the Biden Administration’s proposed Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for passenger cars and light-duty trucks. This rule sought to phase out gas-powered vehicles and mandate the mass production of electric vehicles. Britt’s statement noted that she has cosponsored several bills addressing the Biden administration’s vehicle mandates including Senator Crapo’s Choice in Automobile Retail Sales (CARS) Act to prohibit the EPA from moving forward with its EV mandate for passenger cars and trucks or any similar future rules that would limit the availability of new motor vehicles based on that vehicle’s engine type as well as being a cosponsor of Senator Markwayne Mullin’s the Preserving Choice in Vehicle Purchases Act.  

Steve Marshall joins 18 attorneys general who want California’s emissions rule for trucks reversed

Nineteen attorneys general are challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to allow California to enforce its own regulations requiring zero-emission heavy-duty trucks. In 2021, the California Air Resources Board requested the EPA waive regulations in the federal Clean Air Act. The EPA approved the waiver in March. Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the EPA’s decision allowed his state to be the world’s first government to require zero-emission trucks and paved the way for clean trucks and buses across the globe. California’s Advanced Clean Trucks rule requires manufacturers to have 40% of semi-tractor sales to be zero-emissions by 2035. All heavy-duty vehicles in California must have no carbon exhaust emissions, wherever feasible, by 2045. Last week, Republican Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird led a coalition of 19 states challenging the EPA’s decision. “The EPA and California have no right or legal justification to force truckers to follow their radical climate agenda,” Bird said in a statement. “America would grind to a halt without truckers who deliver our food, clothes and other necessities.” Eight other states have moved to adopt or are working to adopt California’s truck regulations, according to Newsom’s office. In 1967, Congress created a waiver provision for state regulations and it was amended in 1990 to include emissions. The Clean Air Act stated there would be only two ways to enforce emission standards from new motor vehicles – EPA regulations and California laws. Other states can only adopt standards identical to California. “This statutory scheme struck an important balance that protected manufacturers from multiple and different state emission standards, while preserving California’s pivotal role as a laboratory for innovation in the control of emissions from new motor vehicles,” Michael Regan, EPA administrator, wrote in a 38-page article published in the Federal Register in April. “Congress recognized that California could serve as a pioneer and a laboratory for the nation in setting new motor vehicle emission standards and the development of new emission control technologies.” “Further, Congress intentionally structured this waiver provision to restrict and limit EPA’s ability to deny a waiver,” he added. “The provision was designed to ensure California’s broad discretion to determine the best means to protect the health and welfare of its citizens.” The attorneys general argue California’s regulations will increase operating costs for the truck industry, lower demand for diesel and biodiesel, and eliminate jobs. “Joe Biden is partnering with California to attempt to upend Missouri’s economy through the federal administrative state, and my office isn’t going to stand for it,” Republican Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey said in a statement. Joining Iowa in the petition to the U.S. District Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Republished with the permission of The Center Square.

25 GOP governors ask Biden administration to hit pause on broader clean water rule

Twenty-five Republican governors oppose a revised federal rule regulating U.S. waterways, citing uncertainty from an undecided U.S. Supreme Court case related to the rule. The governors sent a letter to the Biden administration on Monday asking it to delay the implementation of the revised Waters of the United States rule since the U.S. Supreme Court is currently considering Sackett v. EPA. The revised WOTUS rule, released on Dec. 30, reinstates pre-2015 water protections under the federal Clean Water Act. The rule was scaled back under the Trump administration, which triggered lawsuits from environmental groups. “The substance of the rule hinders State governments as we seek to give clarity and consistency to businesses, farms, and individuals regarding the regulatory framework for water,” the 25 GOP governors wrote. “The broad definitions used in the 514- page document only add to the confusing and complicated history of WOTUS. In fact, it appears that the EPA is seeking to regulate private ponds, ditches, and other small water features.” The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in December the revised rule applies to “traditional navigable waters, the territorial seas, interstate waters, as well as upstream water resources that significantly affect those waters.” “When Congress passed the Clean Water Act 50 years ago, it recognized that protecting our waters is essential to ensuring healthy communities and a thriving economy,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement. “Following extensive stakeholder engagement, and building on what we’ve learned from previous rules, EPA is working to deliver a durable definition of WOTUS that safeguards our nation’s waters, strengthens economic opportunity, and protects people’s health while providing greater certainty for farmers, ranchers, and landowners.” The governors also questioned the timing of the new rule, given ongoing inflation. “Another burdensome and overbroad regulation from the federal government could not come at a worse time for America,” they wrote. “Having already squandered much of America’s energy independence, you should not increase costs for consumers by tying up energy production with even more red tape.” Environmental groups praised the Biden administration’s revised WOTUS rule. “This comes at a time when we’re seeing unprecedented attacks on federal clean water protections by polluters and their allies,” Jon Devine, director of federal water policy for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement last month. “While the nation still has significant work to do to fully protect important waters, it’s encouraging to see the country taking a step in the right direction to protect the waters we need for everyone’s health and the environment.” The letter was signed by Idaho Gov. Brad Little, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Sanders, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte, Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen, Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, and Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon. Republished with the permission of The Center Square.

AGs push back against EPA ‘environmental justice’ rule, say it will increase energy costs

Twelve attorneys general have submitted comments to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan expressing concerns about a new proposed rule they argue will increase energy costs and risk Americans’ safety. At issue is the EPA’s proposed rule, “Accidental Release Prevention Requirements: Risk Management Programs under Clean Air Act; Safer Communities by Chemical Accident Prevention.” (87 Fed. Reg. 53,556), which Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton argues is another attempt by the Biden administration to revive an Obama-era “environmental justice” regulation. If implemented, it would far exceed the statutory authority of the EPA, the attorneys general argue, which was curtailed by the Supreme Court earlier this year. The rule would require a range of American facilities and industries to implement costly new processes to minimize “climate change risks,” which the EPA hasn’t proved will reduce such risks, they argue. Those impacted by the regulations would include petroleum refineries, chemical manufacturers, water and wastewater treatment systems, chemical and petroleum wholesalers and terminals, food manufacturers, packing plants, cold storage facilities, agricultural chemical distributors, and midstream gas plants, among others. The proposed rule would impose “burdensome new regulatory requirements that do not lead to improvements in preventing accidental releases or minimizing the consequences of any such releases,” they write, and “would come at the cost of a greater regulatory burden without providing sufficient corresponding benefits.” It would also cripple the U.S. energy industry and subsequently create a serious national security risk, the attorney generals from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah, and led by Oklahoma, argue. Worse still, another requirement would jeopardize Americans’ safety, they argue because it requires certain facilities to publicly disclose information about specific locations of dangerous chemicals. This would only expose Americans to “risks of intentional releases by bad actors,” they write. “There is an inherent security risk in requiring public disclosure of information of sensitive information about chemical facilities without protections sufficient to mitigate that risk.” The EPA has offered no evidence that imposing additional regulations “would have any effect on the number of chemical accidents that occur at the regulated entities,” they say. Instead, it “would increase costs and add onerous reporting requirements on the regulated facilities.” Several commenters offered support for the rule change during the 2019 reconsideration comment period, but none provided information to support security concerns. The AGs argue the Biden administration is revisiting the same “security shortcomings we warned about” before. They aren’t alone. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also has been pushing back against EPA overreach in the Permian Basin and supported the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in West Virginia v. EPA in June. He said it correctly ruled to restrain the EPA when the agency has attempted to impose costly regulations without input from Congress. Abbott said the ruling was “a victory against an out-of-control administration” as Americans were grappling with “skyrocketing energy costs due to expensive federal regulations that threaten our energy industry. President Biden cannot keep attacking the energy industry and the hardworking men and women who power our nation.” And while other states continue to be hamstrung by federal regulations, Texas continues to lead the U.S. in oil and natural gas production and job creation. Such a rule would stifle that growth, Abbott said. Oil & Gas Workers Association Board Member Richard Welch told The Center Square a so-called “environmental justice” rule would devastate the economy, drive fuel prices up and hamper production at refineries that are already producing at capacity and under the strictest regulations already. The rule isn’t about “justice,” he argues, but is “simply a ‘strong arm’ of an already weaponized EPA aimed at suffocating the already over-regulated oil and gas industry.” Welch also says the administration doesn’t regulate the wind, solar and electric vehicle industries to the extent that it regulates the oil and natural gas industry. These industries also receive significant subsidies from the federal government while the harvesting of resources and production to create so-called green energy “causes significant harm to the environment,” he added. He also said the U.S. oil and gas industry “remains confident in the AGs commitment to protecting it from ongoing federal overreach” and the Texas oil and natural gas industry “remains confident in the efforts of AG Paxton and Gov. Abbott to ensure Texas remains the oil and gas powerhouse that fuels America and the world.” Republished with the permission of The Center Square.

Terri Sewell joins White House leaders to announce rural wastewater infrastructure initiative

On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell welcomed U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan, and White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu to Lowndes County, Alabama, to announce a new wastewater infrastructure initiative under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Sewell hosted a roundtable at the White Hall Town Hall to give federal officials an opportunity to hear from local leaders about the unique needs of each community and to address broken and failing wastewater systems in rural Alabama. “Access to adequate wastewater infrastructure is a basic human right, but for too many of my constituents, generations of disinvestment have led to broken and failing wastewater systems that put the health of our communities at risk,” said Rep. Sewell. “Since coming to Congress, I have made addressing our wastewater crisis a top priority, working to secure funding and direct resources to areas in need of help. Now, thanks to the leadership of the Biden-Harris Administration and transformative investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, more help is on the way. This joint initiative between the EPA and USDA will be instrumental in our fight to improve wastewater infrastructure for our most underserved communities.” Today, I welcomed @EPAMichaelRegan, @SecVilsack, and @MitchLandrieu46 to Lowndes County where we announced a brand new initiative under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help fix our broken wastewater systems here in rural Alabama. THREAD 👇🏾 pic.twitter.com/y2dRsKOBcA — Rep. Terri A. Sewell (@RepTerriSewell) August 2, 2022 The Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap Community Initiative will allow EPA and USDA—in close collaboration with local communities, state and Tribal partners, and on-the-ground technical assistance providers—to leverage technical and financial expertise to make progress on addressing the wastewater infrastructure needs of some of America’s most underserved communities. According to an EPA press release, the new initiative will be piloted in 11 communities across the country where residents lack basic wastewater management that is essential to protecting their health and the environment. Each community or Tribe will receive direct support to develop wastewater assessments with technical engineering support, design wastewater community solution plans, identify and pursue funding opportunities, and build long-term capacity. Catherine Flowers, founder of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice applauded the initiative. “Decades ago, Lowndes County led the charge for voting rights – today we are leading the call for wastewater equity. Most Americans couldn’t imagine raw sewage pooling in their yard just outside the kitchen window, or worse, backing up into their home when it rains too much,” stated Flowers. “I want to thank the Biden-Harris Administration for committing to help us find a solution. Today, we are taking a big step toward achieving a more just future for the people of Lowndes and rural communities across the U.S.” An estimated 2.2 million people in the United States lack basic running water and indoor plumbing. This initiative will help communities access financing and technical assistance to improve wastewater infrastructure to “close the gap” for communities that have been left behind. “The America that we all believe in is a land of opportunity. But, for historically marginalized communities from Alabama to Alaska, that opportunity is stolen when basic sanitation doesn’t work—exposing adults and children to backyard sewage and disease,” said Regan. “By partnering with USDA, states, and leveraging funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, EPA is working to restore dignity and opportunity to rural communities here in Lowndes County and across the country.” Agriculture Secretary Vilsack argued that this initiative would help provide communities with vital services. “Access to modern, reliable wastewater infrastructure is a necessity, and the Biden-Harris Administration is committed to doing everything we can to ensure every family and every child in America has access to these vital services. By combining USDA and EPA resources and taking advantage of the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we can restore to these communities a sense of economic vitality and social dignity that the people living there deserve.” “President [Joe]Biden has been clear—we cannot leave any community behind as we rebuild America’s infrastructure with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This includes rural and Tribal communities who, for too long, have felt forgotten. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides $11.7 billion in loans and grants to communities for a wide range of water-quality infrastructure projects, including wastewater solutions for these communities,” stated White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu. The EPA and USDA—in partnership with state, Tribal, and local partners—are launching the initiative in: Bolivar County, Mississippi; Doña Ana County, New Mexico; Duplin County, North Carolina; Greene County, Alabama; Halifax County, North Carolina; Harlan County, Kentucky; Lowndes County, Alabama; McDowell County, West Virginia; Raleigh County, West Virginia; San Carlos Apache Tribe, Arizona; and, Santo Domingo Pueblo, New Mexico.

Supreme Court limits EPA in curbing power plant emissions

In a blow to the fight against climate change, the Supreme Court on Thursday limited how the nation’s main anti-air pollution law can be used to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. By a 6-3 vote, with conservatives in the majority, the court said that the Clean Air Act does not give the Environmental Protection Agency broad authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants that contribute to global warming. The decision, said environmental advocates and dissenting liberal justices, was a major step in the wrong direction — “a gut punch,” one prominent meteorologist said — at a time of increasing environmental damage attributable to climate change amid dire warnings about the future. The court’s ruling could complicate the administration’s plans to combat climate change. Its detailed proposal to regulate power plant emissions is expected by the end of the year. Though the decision was specific to the EPA, it was in line with the conservative majority’s skepticism of the power of regulatory agencies, and it sent a message on possible future effects beyond climate change and air pollution. The decision put an exclamation point on a court term in which a conservative majority, bolstered by three appointees of former President Donald Trump, also overturned the nearly 50-year-old nationwide right to abortion, expanded gun rights, and issued major religious rights rulings, all over liberal dissents. President Joe Biden aims to cut the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions in half by the end of the decade and to have an emissions-free power sector by 2035. Power plants account for roughly 30% of carbon dioxide output. “Capping carbon dioxide emissions at a level that will force a nationwide transition away from the use of coal to generate electricity may be a sensible ‘solution to the crisis of the day,’” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his opinion for the court. But Roberts wrote that the Clean Air Act doesn’t give EPA the authority to do so and that Congress must speak clearly on this subject. “A decision of such magnitude and consequence rests with Congress itself, or an agency acting pursuant to a clear delegation from that representative body,” he wrote. In a dissent, Justice Elena Kagan wrote that the decision strips the EPA of the power Congress gave it to respond to “the most pressing environmental challenge of our time.” Kagan said the stakes in the case are high. She said, “The Court appoints itself—instead of Congress or the expert agency—the decisionmaker on climate policy. I cannot think of many things more frightening.” Biden, in a statement, called the ruling “another devastating decision that aims to take our country backwards.” He said he would “not relent in using my lawful authorities to protect public health and tackle the climate crisis.” And EPA head Michael Regan said his agency will move forward with a rule to impose environmental standards on the energy sector. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who led the legal challenge to EPA authority, said the “EPA can no longer sidestep Congress to exercise broad regulatory power that would radically transform the nation’s energy grid and force states to fundamentally shift their energy portfolios away from coal-fired generation.” But University of Georgia meteorology professor Marshall Shepherd, a past president of the American Meteorological Society, said of the decision: “It feels like a gut punch to critical efforts to combat the climate crisis which has the potential to place lives at risk for decades to come.” Richard Revesz, an environmental expert at the New York University School of Law, called the decision “a significant setback for environmental protection and public health safeguards.” But he also said in a statement that EPA still has authority to address greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector. EPA Administrator Regan said the agency “will move forward with lawfully setting and implementing environmental standards that meet our obligation to protect all people and all communities from environmental harm.” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York said the consequences of Thursday’s decision “will ripple across the entire federal government, from the regulation of food and drugs to our nation’s health care system, all of which will put American lives at risk.” The court held that Congress must speak with specificity when it wants to give an agency authority to regulate on an issue of major national significance. Several conservative justices have criticized what they see as the unchecked power of federal agencies. Those concerns were evident in the court’s orders throwing out two Biden administration policies aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19. Last summer, the court’s 6-3 conservative majority ended a pause on evictions over unpaid rent. In January, the same six justices blocked a requirement that workers at large employers be vaccinated or test regularly and wear a mask on the job. Underlying all these issues is a lack of action from Congress, reflecting bitter, partisan disagreements over the role of the federal government. On the environment, Biden’s signature plan to address climate, a sweeping social and environmental policy bill known as Build Back Better, is all but dead amid united opposition from congressional Republicans and conservative Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin from coal state West Virginia. Under a trimmed-down version, the legislation backed by Democrats would offer tax credits and spending to boost renewable power such as wind and solar and sharply increase the number of electric vehicles. The justices heard arguments in the case on the same day that a United Nations panel’s report warned that the effects of climate change are about to get much worse, likely making the world sicker, hungrier, poorer, and more dangerous in the coming years. The power plant case has a long and complicated history that begins with the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. That plan would have required states to reduce emissions from the generation of electricity, mainly by shifting away from coal-fired plants. But that plan never took effect. Acting in a lawsuit filed by West Virginia and others, the Supreme Court blocked it in 2016 by a 5-4 vote, with conservatives

EPA chief tours sewage problems in Alabama’s Black Belt

The head of the federal Environmental Protection Agency said he witnessed “unacceptable” problems with raw sewage fouling properties of residents of Alabama’s Black Belt. EPA Administrator Michael Regan got a firsthand look Saturday at homes in Lowndes County, where malfunctioning septic systems discharged sewage into backyards and between mobile homes. He was in the region ahead of the commemoration of the “Bloody Sunday” civil rights march in Selma that helped bolster support for the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Regan said it was “sobering” to see failing septic systems, raw sewage backing up into yards and homes, and children forced to walk gingerly in soggy front yards, al.com reported. “This is unacceptable,” Regan said. “Safe drinking water, safe sewer systems, you know, this is a basic right. These individuals deserve what every American deserves, which is clean water and a safe environment.” Wastewater treatment has been a decades-old problem in parts of Alabama’s Black Belt, where communities often lack traditional sewer lines. Septic tank systems have been a poor alternative because the region’s heavy clay soil traps water near the surface. Federal, state, and local officials have spent years seeking solutions. Regan and Agriculture Undersecretary for Rural Development Xochitl Torres Small, who was also on the Saturday tour, said the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 could help make solutions a reality. Among the residents speaking out during the EPA chief’s visit was 59-year-old Jerry Smith. “When it rains, all this whole area floods and the waste comes right behind,” Smith said. “That’s what we’ve been dealing with.” Smith added: “This is ridiculous that we, you know, we pay taxes on this property and the property is contaminated.” Republished with the permission of the Associated Press.

In historic pick, Joe Biden taps Deb Haaland as interior secretary

President-elect Joe Biden selected New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland as his nominee for interior secretary on Thursday, a historic pick that would make her the first Native American to lead the powerful federal agency that has wielded influence over the nation’s tribes for generations. Tribal leaders and activists around the country, along with many Democratic figures, cheered Haaland’s selection after urging Biden for weeks to choose her to lead the Department of Interior. They stood behind her candidacy even when concerns that Democrats might risk their majority in the House if Haaland yielded her seat in Congress appeared to threaten her nomination. With Haaland’s nomination, Indigenous people will for the first time in their lifetimes see a Native American at the table where the highest decisions are made — and so will everyone else, said OJ Semans, a Rosebud Sioux vote activist who was in Georgia on Thursday helping get out the Native vote for two Senate runoffs. “It’s made people aware that Indians still exist,” he said. Haaland, 60, is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna and, as she likes to say, a 35th-generation resident of New Mexico. The role of interior secretary would put her in charge of an agency that has tremendous sway not only over the nearly 600 federally recognized tribes, but also over much of the nation’s vast public lands, waterways, wildlife, national parks, and mineral wealth. Haaland tweeted after the news was made public that “growing up in my mother’s Pueblo household made me fierce. “I’ll be fierce for all of us, our planet, and all of our protected land,” she pledged. Biden plans to introduce Haaland — and other picks for his Cabinet — at an event Saturday in Wilmington, Delaware. Her selection breaks a 245-year record of non-Native officials, mostly male, serving as the top federal official over American Indian affairs. The federal government often worked to dispossess Native Americans of their land and, until recently, to assimilate them into white culture. “You’ve got to understand — you’re taking Interior full circle,” said Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, chair of the House Natural Resources Committee and a champion of Haaland for the job. “For years, its legacy was the disenfranchisement of the Native people of this country, of displacement, of cultural genocide.” With Haaland’s nomination, “that in itself is a huge message,” Grijalva said. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez called it “truly a historic and unprecedented day for all Indigenous people.” “I am SO ELATED,” the head of progressive Democrats’ Sunrise Movement, Varshini Prakash, tweeted. “This will be the first time an Indigenous person – and a badass climate champion woman at that – will hold any presidential cabinet position. Congratulations to @JoeBiden for making history.″ Get-out-the-vote activists believe their efforts, and the Native vote, helped flip Arizona in particular for Biden and secure the presidency. “There’s a feeling something is changing,” said Ashley Nicole McCray, a member of the Absentee Kiowa tribe of Oklahoma and of an indigenous environmental coalition. “Finally, we’ve come to this point where Indigenous sentiment is no longer being silenced.” But Biden’s pick could further deplete, at least temporarily, the narrow majority Democrats maintain in the House. Biden has already selected several lawmakers from the chamber, including Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond and Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge, to serve in his administration. Some on Biden’s transition team had expressed concerns about dipping further into the already thinned Democratic House majority for another senior administration posting. But Biden decided that the barrier-breaking aspect of her nomination and her experience as vice chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources made her the right pick for the moment. The president-elect has been methodically filling the posts in his Cabinet, adding North Carolina environmental official Michael Regan as his nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. Biden introduced former South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg earlier this week as his transportation secretary and announced Thursday that former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm was his nominee for energy secretary. In a statement Thursday night, Biden said he had assembled a “brilliant, tested, trailblazing team” that “will be ready on day one to confront the existential threat of climate change.” “They share my belief that we have no time to waste to confront the climate crisis, protect our air and drinking water, and deliver justice to communities that have long shouldered the burdens of environmental harms,” the president-elect said. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made it clear Wednesday that Biden had her blessing to choose Haaland, saying she would make an “excellent choice” as interior secretary. South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn, the No. 3 Democrat in the House and a close Biden ally, also supported Haaland for the job. Haaland is one of the first two Native American women in the House. She told The Associated Press before her nomination that see the difference her position in Congress made for ordinary Native Americans who came to her with business before the federal government. “They felt comfortable just launching into the issues they wanted,” Haaland told the AP in an interview before her appointment. They would say, for example, “Oh, we don’t have to explain tribal sovereignty to you,” meaning tribes’ constitutionally guaranteed status as independent nations. Haaland previously worked as head of New Mexico’s Democratic Party, as tribal administrator, and as an administrator for an organization providing services for adults with developmental disabilities. Born to a Marine veteran father and a Navy veteran mother, Haaland describes herself as a single mother who sometimes had to rely on food stamps. She says she is still paying off student loans after college and law school for herself and college for her daughter. New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall, who is retiring after 22 years in Congress and was initially considered the front-runner for interior secretary, congratulated Haaland on her selection, calling it “momentous and well-earned.’’ Previously, the highest-ranking administration official known to have Native American heritage was Charles Curtis, who served as Herbert Hoover’s vice president and whose mother was one-quarter Kaw tribe.