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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Biden's pick for Interior secretary faces a balancing act as she defends limits on oil-and-gas development while responding to concerns that the initiatives — and her own policy views — threaten producing states.

Driving the news: Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) appears this morning before the Senate energy committee vetting her nomination and faces critical questioning from GOP members.

  • "There’s no question that fossil energy does and will continue to play a major role in America for years to come," she states in her prepared remarks.
  • "I know how important oil and gas revenues are to fund critical services," she intends to tell the panel.

But, but, but: "We must also recognize that the energy industry is innovating, and our climate challenge must be addressed," her remarks note.

Haaland has called for much more aggressive steps on climate change and previously expressed opposition to fracking on public lands.

Why it matters: The careful framing of her statement to senators reflects the delicate politics of Biden's oil-and-gas and climate policies — and the key role Interior plays in some of them.

  • Biden has frozen new leasing on federal lands and waters — including Haaland's home state, which has lots of production from federal areas.

What they're saying: Administration officials have pointed to companies' stockpiles of current leases.

  • But the industry has bashed the policy on new leases and fears Interior is also making it harder to develop existing acreage, even as the agency has been emphasizing that permitting is proceeding.
  • "We...urge members of the Committee to seek assurances that Ms. Haaland will protect America’s ability to access our oil and natural gas resources," the American Exploration and Production Council, said in a statement.

What we’re watching: Haaland could play a role in determining whether a contentious copper-nickel mine moves forward in northeastern Minnesota.

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Go deeper

Feb 22, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Collins' likely "no" on Tanden a sign of Biden's peril

Photo Illustration: Annelise Capossela. Photos: Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty, Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Close associates of Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) tell Axios they're convinced she’ll vote against Neera Tanden to be the director of the Office of Management and Budget, eliminating a possible safety valve to save the nomination.

Why it matters: Tanden's uphill climb is emblematic of the challenges facing some of President Biden's remaining high-profile nominees. Interior Department pick Deb Haaland, Health and Human Services secretary-designate Xavier Becerra and Attorney General designee Merrick Garland risk varying outcomes.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Feb 22, 2021 - Economy & Business

Brazil investors eye the worst-case scenario

Expand chart
Data: EIA; Chart: Axios Visuals

Brazil's markets tumbled on Monday, with state oil company Petrobras losing 19% of its value, after president Jair Bolsonaro announced he was firing the company's Chicago-educated CEO and replacing him with a former general.

Why it matters: Bolsonaro pledged to "put a finger on electricity" — to keep prices at artificially low levels, worrying investors who had previously been counting on him to have more of a laissez-faire approach to industry.

Lawmakers call for Israel-Hamas ceasefire amid aerial bombardments

Combination images of Republican Sen. Todd Young and Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy. Photo: Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images/Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) and 28 Senate Democrats on Sunday called for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas as fighting continued into the night.

Driving the news: In the first bipartisan call for a ceasefire, Young, a ranking member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counterterrorism, joined its Chair Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) a statement saying: "Israel has the right to defend itself from Hamas' rocket attacks, in a manner proportionate with the threat its citizens are facing.