Extremist or Bridger? A Fight Over Biden’s Supervisory Election


WASHINGTON — Democrats are poised to stigmatize Tracy Stone-Manning as an “eco-terrorist” for her involvement in a tree-planting event despite being nominated to head the Bureau of Land Management, despite combined opposition from Republicans. Graduate student in the 1980s.

The nomination vote, scheduled for Thursday’s Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has sparked a battle between Republicans and Democrats over an agency at the center of climate policy.

The Bureau of Land Management is an agency under the Ministry of the Interior that oversees grazing, logging and drilling on 245 million acres of public land and manages 700 million acres of mineral rights. It is responsible for balancing oil, gas and coal extraction with recreation and conserving natural resources. It’s also key to President Biden’s goal of phasing out oil and gas drilling on federal soil – this plan being challenged By 15 states led by Republican attorneys general.

“Many people’s concerns about Stone-Manning’s candidacy are that he will be on the side of preserving public lands for public use, and those who want public lands to be used for further development don’t like it,” he said. said Mark Squillace, a professor of natural resources law at the University of Colorado Boulder.

“These other issues are being used as a way to block his approval,” he said. “I don’t think anyone cared what he did 32 years ago.”

Ms. Stone-Manning, 55, has built a career in environmental policy, serving as deputy to Senator Jon Tester of Montana and chief of staff to former Governor of Montana Steve Bullock, who was both Democrats and president of Montana. environmental agency with a reputation as a bridge builder between environmentalists, farmers and fossil fuel interests. He is currently the senior advisor for conservation policy at the National Wildlife Federation, a nonprofit conservation group.

However, Republicans argue that his actions in 1989 and his statements about it in the intervening years make him unfit for office. They wrote to President Biden asking him to withdraw his candidacy and plan to vote against him as a bloc on the committee.

Republicans also opposed the election of Home Secretary Deb Haaland, who became the first Native cabinet secretary for his opposition to expanded oil and gas drilling on public lands. While Ms. Haaland narrowly won approval, the process turned into a proxy war over climate policy.

Conservatives were more successful in forcing the Biden administration to withdraw its election of deputy interior secretary Elizabeth Klein in March after senators from the coal and oil states objected to Ms.

“Oil and gas, coal, these industries are declining or facing serious declines,” said John Leshy, professor of law emeritus at the University of California Hastings.

He attributed this to market forces rather than government policies, but said the Home Office has become the site of the most fierce battles for the future of these industries at the moment.

“There’s a lot of frustration associated with that,” said Mr. Leshy. “And we are in a time when these disappointments are at the forefront.”

Ms Stone-Manning was never charged with a crime and participated in an effort to drive 500-pound metal nails into trees in the Clearwater National Forest in Idaho thirty years ago, two people later convicted of federal crimes.

Tree planting is a tactic used to try to prevent felling by inserting metal rods into trees that could damage the saw blade. It was used in the 1980s by activists who hoped to make cutting trees uneconomical, but the practice was dangerous; spikes can injure or kill loggers.

Ms. Manning, then a 23-year-old graduate student, rewrote and mailed a blasphemous letter to the United States Forest Service on behalf of one of the activists who planted the trees. Ms Stone-Manning described her action as an effort to warn authorities and protect people from harm.

Republicans accused Ms. Stone-Manning of lying to lawmakers about whether she was the target of an investigation, a charge denied by the administration.

The 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats on the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee are expected to be split evenly along party lines. This would force majority leader Senator Chuck Schumer of New York to evict the nomination, a move rarely used that would bring him before the Senate for a full vote. If the Senate is split along party lines, too, the Democrats will need Vice President Harris to break the tie.

The White House released a statement this week in support of Ms. Stone-Manning.

“Tracy Stone-Manning is a dedicated public servant with years of experience and a proven track record in finding solutions and finding common ground when it comes to our public lands and waters,” said Vedant Patel, a White House spokesperson. “He is highly qualified to become the next director of the Bureau of Land Management.”

Republicans say the new revelations of people involved in the staggering incident show that Ms. Stone-Manning was more involved than she claimed.

“We now know that President Biden’s nominee to head the Bureau of Land Management lied to the Senate alleging his involvement in eco-terrorism,” Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said in a statement. “The White House should immediately withdraw his candidacy.”

Mr. Tester said the charges against Ms. Stone-Manning “smell of political defamation”.

“The Tracy Stone-Manning I know is someone who has spent the last 20 years plus bringing people from both sides of the aisle from all components of the industry together,” he said.

According to court documents, in the spring of 1989, when Ms. Stone-Manning was a graduate student in environmental studies at the University of Montana, Missoula, including John Blount and Jeffrey Fairchild, World First! Old trees in the Idaho forest attempt to stop the sale of lumber.

Later, Mrs Stone-Manning testified, Mr. Blount send a letter He alerted the Forest Service, which he did after he rewrote it. He later told prosecutors that it was the first time he learned that the tree had spikes, and that it was “shocked”.

In 1993, Ms Stone-Manning testified against Mr Fairchild and Mr Blount in exchange for immunity.

Last week, Michael W. Merkley, a retired US Forest Service investigator who was the special agent in charge of the case, said: Wrote to Senate deputies and when she first investigated the government’s crime of planting trees, she said that Ms. Stone-Manning was useless and belligerent. He also said he received a “target letter” stating that he would be charged for his involvement.

“Miss. Stone-Manning came forward after her lawyer signed the immunity agreement, not before she was caught,” Mr. Merkley said.

Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, cites this and a 1990 interview by Ms. Stone-Manning as proof that she lied in response to written questions from the committee. became the target of criminal investigation.

“He is an eco-terrorist,” Mr. Barrasso said in an interview, adding, “He lied to the committee, misled the committee about his past conduct and investigations.”

Mr Fairchild, who was imprisoned for his role in the tree planting incident, defended Stone-Manning when reached by phone.

“As one of the main participants and one of the main planners of this event, he didn’t know anything about it beforehand as far as I remember,” Fairchild said.

Mr. Fairchild added that in the circle of friends committed to environmental actions, Ms. Manning was known for her opposition to violence.

“Tracy was always a moderate voice,” he said. “We were talking about ending logging of old growing forests and he was the first to say, ‘Yeah, but loggers have families too.

Mr Tester said he wasn’t worried about the allegations either. “We have the votes to have him approved,” he said.


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