RAPID CITY, SD – The U.S. Senate confirmed New Mexico Representative Deb Haaland as Interior Secretary. That department has a lot to do with federal land management across the country. South Dakota Stock Grower’s Association Executive Director James Halverson says they have a lot of concerns with Haaland’s confirmation.
“We’re looking at her track record. We’re a little bit nervous on how that can go,” says Halverson. “We know that cattle producers are the real stewards of the land. But not everybody knows that and there can be a bad narrative out there that we’re harming things, which isn’t the case. We will continue to ranch and be productive and also be ecological stewards of the land we ranch on.”
One of the concerns with Haaland’s past record is her support for continued protections for grizzly bears. Halverson says that’s a bit concerning where predators are being protected at the expense of those properly managing the land and trying to make a living.
“More importantly is what they try to do under the guise of protecting these predators,” says Halverson. “They use that as a tool to take land and ‘quote-unquote’ protect it. In the meantime, ranchers are doing everything they can to make those ecosystems as productive as they can-which is why those animals thrive in the first place.”
He says another concern with Haaland is her support of the Green New Deal which could cause harm to America’s energy supply and the economy.
“We’ve already seen energy costs go through the roof just in the first few months. That’s what happens when we start putting a stop to our domestic energy supply, claims Halverson. “A lot of that comes from public lands. There are people who are very nervous that they will end that and we’re going to have to be dependent on foreign energy sources again. That’s not good for anybody.”
Haaland was confirmed on mostly a partly line vote of 51 to 40 with four Republicans joining Democrats in voting to approve the confirmation. As reported by National Public Radio, Haaland, during her confirmation hearing, said, “There’s no question that fossil energy does and will continue to play a major role in America for years to come,” before adding that climate change must be addressed.