Interior Secretary Deb Haaland is facing new questions about her decision to withdraw land from oil and natural gas leasing around the Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico. An ethics complaint was filed against the secretary by the watchdog group Protect the Public’s Trust, which requested that the Department of the Interior (DOI) investigate several public statements and actions that made clear Secretary Haaland’s decision was pre-determined.
For the past year, we’ve raised concerns about her growing conflicts of interest in connection to her daughter’s climate activism and lobbying for the Chaco withdrawal. Secretary Haaland has an obligation to balance the interests of all tribes, yet it’s apparent she picked one side as a member of the Laguna Pueblo by failing to even consider a compromise solution offered by the Navajo Nation. And according to Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren in recent congressional testimony, Secretary Haaland’s actions ignored his tribe’s sovereignty. Her failure to act properly and under strict ethics standards means the land withdrawal is vulnerable in court.
We urge DOI to take seriously the ethics complaint and thoroughly investigate this matter. So far, the secretary and senior DOI officials have stonewalled media and have failed to respond to questions from lawmakers.