Interior secretary reflects on first year

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On Wednesday, U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland got us up to speed on her first year under the Biden administration.

Tuesday marked one year since Haaland was confirmed as interior secretary, making her the first Native American cabinet secretary in the country’s history. On a virtual call Wednesday, her office laid out the many changes it’s made.

"We kicked off the first White House Tribal Nations summit in four long years, so that we could create policies based on the input of indigenous leaders. And back home in New Mexico we’ve proposed long sought after protections for Chaco Canyon," said Haaland.

Haaland also said the recently signed infrastructure law will help with water conservation.

"With a historic $8.3 billion investment in western water and drought resilience, the law will support our work to expand existing successful programs at reclamation, that help us create resilient communities and protect our water supplies," said Tanya Trujillo assistant secretary for Water and Science.

In the realm of renewable energy, Haaland says the Bureau of Land Management has approved 11 new projects in New Mexico and is already working on 14.

"These kinds of investments will help communities across the country and in New Mexico to be part of a climate solution, while creating good-paying union jobs, boosting local economies and helping address economic and environmental injustice," said Haaland.

Now, what about oil and gas permits? Haaland says there are around 2,469 approved permits in New Mexico. And more than 500 of those – approved so far this year, and more than 4,300 approved and unused permits available to drill in our state.

"U.S. oil and gas production is approaching record highs, quite frankly, while thousands of drilling permits on federal lands go unused. So we are moving forward, we are approving the permits for leases that are already approved,” Haaland said.

While also moving forward with reforms on the industry to lead the country in a more sustainable direction.