GOP Senators Still Dissatisfied With Interior Nominee’s Answers After 2nd Hearing

Pace of offshore leasing worries Republican lawmakers and industry
By Nathan Worcester
Nathan Worcester
Nathan Worcester
Nathan Worcester covers national politics for The Epoch Times and has also focused on energy and the environment. Nathan has written about everything from fusion energy and ESG to Biden's classified documents and international conservative politics. He lives and works in Chicago. Nathan can be reached at
February 8, 2022Updated: February 10, 2022

A second Senate committee hearing on the nomination of Laura Daniel-Davis to serve in a key Interior Department post on Feb. 8 did little to allay the concerns of many Republicans.

Daniel-Davis, who previously worked in the Obama administration and as chief of policy and advocacy for the National Wildlife Federation, is currently principal deputy assistant secretary for land and minerals management. If confirmed, she would be elevated to assistant secretary of the interior for land and minerals management.

The second hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee follows a 2021 hearing on her nomination that ended in a 10–10 vote along party lines. Committee Chair Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) voted for Daniel-Davis alongside every other Democrat, while all Republicans voted against her nomination.

Sen. Mike Barrasso (R-Wyo.), the committee’s ranking Republican, requested that Manchin schedule the second hearing, a Barrasso spokesperson told The Epoch Times.

“Since her last failed vote in committee, Ms. Daniel-Davis appears to have continued the assault on Wyoming’s economy—and our nation’s energy independence—from her position at the department,” a Barrasso spokesperson said.

“Additionally, [Interior Department] officials, including her chain-of-command, have also not responded to numerous questions from Ranking Member Barrasso on issues relevant to Ms. Daniel-Davis’ position.”

The spokesperson didn’t respond by press time to a request by The Epoch Times about the claim about the state’s economy as well as what questions from Barrasso may have gone unanswered.

Daniel-Davis was questioned on Feb. 8 by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) about whether the administration accounted for the fact that limiting offshore leasing in the United States could increase greenhouse gas emissions by shifting production overseas and cost American jobs.

“Ms. Daniel-Davis, I suspect that some of these decisions are being made higher than you, but the only leverage I have right now is to oppose your nomination,” he said.

“Until these answers are given and it may be March 2 until we know, I will speak on behalf of my workers, and my economy, and the world environment, to deliver a message that we don’t like where this administration is going.”

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) pressed Daniel-Davis on President Joe Biden’s campaign promise to “ban new oil and gas leasing on public lands and waters” and whether it influenced Interior’s November 2021 report on oil and gas leasing.

“I’m not in a position to speak for the president,” she said.

“That report was developed to provide specific recommendations for a program to ensure that it provided a better return to the taxpayer, was less speculative—particularly onshore—and took climate impacts into account and made sure we were doing proper public review of any leasing activity on public lands and waters.”

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) asked Daniel-Davis if she could provide a timeline for the administration’s next five-year, forward-looking plan on offshore leasing. Such plans are required under law and the current one is set to expire at the end of June.

“I don’t have a timeline for you here today, but they are absolutely working forward on it,” said Daniel-Davis, who acknowledged that the Trump administration had put together its own offshore leasing plan that hasn’t been put in place.

Spokespersons for two Republicans on the panel, Sens. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.), told The Epoch Times they still oppose the nomination.

Spokespeople for Democrats on the committee didn’t respond by press time to a request for comment.

In the days before the second hearing, Democratic committee member Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) pushed back against the decision to hold it at all.

“Senator Wyden believes the first time Laura Daniel-Davis testified at length on her nomination before the committee was sufficient,” a Wyden spokesperson said, according to The Hill on Feb. 3. “This second hearing is nothing more than an opportunity for Republicans to badger, bully, and harass a well-qualified nominee for a job that needs to be filled.”

A number of environmental groups have backed Daniel-Davis.

In September 2021, a coalition including the National Audubon Society, Earthworks, the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the Natural Resources Defense Council endorsed her nomination, as did her former employer, the National Wildlife Federation.

Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society, emphasized his organization’s support for Daniel-Davis’s nomination in the days preceding the second hearing.

“Laura Daniel-Davis’ nomination underscores the president’s commitment to collaborative and prudent management of U.S. public lands and waters and her years of experience make her an excellent choice,” Williams said in a statement.

“We urge the U.S. Senate to swiftly confirm her nomination for this vital role, so she can quickly get to work on stewarding our natural resources and confronting the challenges of the climate crisis.”

Also prior to the Feb. 8 hearing, the vice president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America Dan Naatz expressed concern about the Biden administration’s unwillingness to clarify when onshore and offshore federal lands will be open for new mineral leases.

“While America and the world continue to struggle with high prices and inflation for essential items, including oil and natural gas, the Biden administration continues its relentless assault on oil and natural gas production on federal lands,” Naatz told The Epoch Times via email.

“So far, all the Biden administration has done is increase the roadblocks and uncertainty oil and natural gas producers operating on federal lands face every day.”

A spokesperson for a mining industry group declined to comment on Daniel-Davis’s nomination.