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Letter: Proud to support Haaland for interior secretary

Letter: Proud to support Haaland for interior secretary

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Combined, we represented the Dakotas for nearly 60 years in the United States Congress. Senator Daschle represented South Dakota in the House of Representatives from 1979-1987 and in the Senate from 1987-2005, including serving as the Minority Leader and later the Majority Leader, and on the Committee on Indian Affairs. He is the highest-ranking South Dakotan to ever serve in the United States government. Senator Dorgan represented North Dakota in the House from 1981-1992 and in the Senate from 1992-2011, including serving as Chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs and was a senior member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Senator Dorgan served in the U.S. Senate leadership for 16 years as Assistant Democratic Floor Leader and Chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee. Our decades of experience serving the American people lead us to proudly support Congresswoman Deb Haaland to serve as Secretary of the Interior.

Bipartisanship was a hallmark of both of our of public service. When we were in Congress, we learned firsthand that the best results for our constituents were achieved through balance and cooperation.

We both hail from states that deeply value our wonderful landscapes, natural beauty and our rich agricultural traditions. We also value responsible resource development, balancing the need for jobs, economic growth and national energy security with our strong Dakotan ties to and respect for the land.

During our Congressional service, we were strong advocates for our current energy developments so important to our home state economies, but we also led renewable energy initiatives and modern measured approaches striving to meet the needs of our states and nation in a balanced way. We have shown balance is achievable and we trust Rep. Haaland to also find that balance. We believe that Rep. Haaland’s personal familiarity with these issues from her home state of New Mexico, combined with a demonstrated record of bipartisanship in Congress will provide the foundation for her approach as Secretary of the Interior.

We have lived alongside and worked with Indian Country our entire careers and we have seen and experienced firsthand that Indigenous values are values of balance. As a citizen of the Laguna Pueblo Tribe, Rep. Haaland will bring those values of balance to the Department of the Interior.

Rep. Haaland will bring a Westerner’s perspective and familiarity to the energy issues facing the Department of the Interior. As any nominee for Interior Secretary would must do, she must support the vision of the Biden-Harris administration on climate change and the goal of transition away from fossil fuels. Rep. Haaland has been clear in her belief that a robust climate agenda is also an economic agenda – and has also demonstrated her understanding that investments in clean energy generation can work hand in hand with maximizing job retention and creation with the energy sector. Supporting the administration she serves does not make her an ideologue or a radical. What Rep. Haaland is, is Indigenous. She embraces Indigenous values, values from which we know our nation can benefit.

Just as in the Dakotas, agriculture and the energy industry are the backbone of her home state of New Mexico. Here in the Dakotas and throughout the West, thousands of good-paying jobs and significant portions of state budgets for education, law enforcement and health care — including New Mexico’s — rely heavily on fossil fuels. Rep. Haaland supports Americans who rely on these industries to support their families and communities. Her tribe has lived in New Mexico since time immemorial, successfully balancing many competing interests and values. Rep. Haaland believes that every job is important and that oil, gas and coal jobs will remain important parts of our economy as she works to support President Biden’s turn towards a clean energy future. Rep. Haaland’s leadership is rooted in her core, traditional values of balance, reciprocity and service. We know she will not deviate from those values and they will serve the Department of the Interior and the American people well.

We can only benefit from the integration of Indigenous values and perspectives throughout our great nation, especially in the agency tasked with overseeing so much of our beautiful land and natural resources. It is time. We urge the Senate to rise to this historic moment and swiftly confirm Deb Haaland as the first Native American Interior Secretary.

Byron Dorgan, a Democrat, is a former U.S. senator from North Dakota. Tom Daschle, a Democrat, is a former U.S. senator from South Dakota.

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