Presidential candidate Joe Biden to oversee large swathes of public land in the western United States faces criticism from Republicans over her involvement in partisan politics as a longtime Democratic aide and environmentalist
BILLINGS, Mont. –President Joe Biden’s candidate to oversee large swathes of public land in the western United States was criticized Tuesday by Republicans Tuesday for her past involvement in partisan politics as a longtime Democratic aide and environmentalist .
Tracy Stone-Manning, former chief of staff to former Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, has been appointed director of the United States Bureau of Land Management. The agency has jurisdiction over 245 million acres (100 million hectares) of federally owned land in the Western States, managing it for uses ranging from fossil fuel extraction and grazing to recreation. .
She would take the helm after the office suffered turmoil in recent years when it lost nearly 300 employees to retire or resign after its seat was moved from Washington DC to Grand Junction, Colorado under Trump.
“You’ve been incredibly partisan in your past,” said Republican Bill Cassidy of Louisiana. “It seems like in your heart you really don’t care about Republicans.”
Stone-Manning said his parents, both Republicans, would “roll in their graves” over the allegation. She indicated that she wanted to pass a 2020 election in which Daines fought off a challenge from Bullock, and added that working collaboratively was the only way to move forward in the controversial debates on public lands in the West.
“Elections can be difficult. I supported my old boss, Governor Bullock. But the election is over and I will honor the result of this election, ”she said.
Democratic Senator John Hickenlooper asked Stone-Manning about the head office move, which he said was “done in a hurry” and left land office workers and Grand Junction residents who had hoped the change would boost the city’s economy.
Stone-Manning said the Home Office was looking into the matter but gave no further details.
After leaving Bullock’s staff in 2017, Stone-Manning led the National Wildlife Federation’s efforts to preserve public lands in the West for wildlife, hiking, hunting, and other non-industrial uses.
She previously worked as an assistant to Democratic Montana Senator Jon Tester and for a nonprofit group that worked to clean up one of the largest contaminated Superfund sites in the country, Clark Fork River in Montana. Tester, who introduced Stone-Manning at Tuesday’s hearing, dismissed the GOP’s description of her as an ideologue.
“He’s a good person with a good heart who understands the value of our public lands,” Tester said.
The post of director of the land management office went unfilled for four years under Trump, who instead relied on a series of interim directors to execute an easing of restrictions on the industry. Chief among them was Conservative lawyer William Perry Pendley, who, before taking office, advocated the sale of federal lands.
Pendley was removed from his post by a federal judge after leading the office for more than a year without the required Senate confirmation and being sued by Bullock.
Stone-Manning supported the effort to oust Pendley and said he was an illegally named person.
She would serve under Home Secretary Deb Haaland, a former Democratic congresswoman from New Mexico who was confirmed by opposition Republicans citing her criticism of the oil and gas industry.