U.S. Dept. of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, a Democrat from New Mexico who became the first Native American Cabinet secretary in U.S. history, established a task force Friday to prioritize taking action on climate change.
The task force has several goals, such as developing a strategy to reduce climate pollution, looking at ways to adapt to the impacts of climate change, addressing environmental injustices, protecting public lands and conserving Department-managed lands.
The department says Haaland’s order also provides guidance on how science should be used in the decision-making process and improves transparency and public engagement in the Department’s decision-making process.
"From day one, President Biden was clear that we must take a whole-of-government approach to tackle the climate crisis, strengthen the economy, and address environmental justice," said Haaland.
"At the Department of the Interior, I believe we have a unique opportunity to make our communities more resilient to climate change and to help lead the transition to a clean energy economy. These steps will align the Interior Department with the President’s priorities and better position the team to be a part of the climate solution."
Haaland also revoked a dozen orders that she believed did not align with the department’s commitment "to protect public health; conserve land, water, and wildlife; and elevate science."
The orders revoked were enacted from March 2017 - Dec. 2020.
"Collectively, those Orders tilted the balance of public land and ocean management without regard for climate change, equity, or community engagement. The new Order does not impact the Interior Department’s ongoing review of proposals for oil, gas, coal, and renewable energy development on public lands and waters," the department said in a press release.
"I know that signing Secretarial Orders alone won’t address the urgency of the climate crisis. But I’m hopeful that these steps will help make clear that we, as a Department, have a mandate to act," added Haaland.
The interior secretary oversees the nation's public lands and waters and leads relations with nearly 600 federally recognized tribes. Haaland has pledged that oil and natural gas will continue to play a major role in America for years to come, even as the Biden administration seeks to conserve public lands and address climate change.
Haaland, a 60-year-old Laguna Pueblo member and two-term congresswoman, often draws on her experience as a single mother and the teachings of her ancestors as a reminder that action the U.S. takes on climate change, the environment and sacred sites will affect generations to come.