Interior Secretary Nominee on Collision Course With Oil Industry

WASHINGTON—Deb Haaland is poised to make history on two fronts, as both the first Native American cabinet secretary and as the architect of what could be a landmark change in the U.S. government’s relationship with oil.

First, she will need to be confirmed by the Senate as President Biden’s nominee for interior secretary—and Republicans are girding for a fight.

The Democratic congresswoman from New Mexico has joined with pipeline protesters, supported the Green New Deal and opposed fracking on public lands. For a cabinet post that oversees the government’s longstanding, multibillion-dollar partnership with drillers on federal lands, Ms. Haaland’s environmental politics are in contrast to those of her predecessors.

“Fracking is a danger to the air we breathe and water we drink,” she wrote in 2017, the year before she was elected to Congress. “The auctioning off of our land for fracking and drilling serves only to drive profits to the few.”

Fracking has become the source of most oil and gas produced in the U.S., and Ms. Haaland’s history of criticizing it has alarmed leaders from fossil-fuel-producing states. Many come from the West, home to nearly all of the drilling on federal land, and where states benefit from the money.

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