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States are poised to help resettle Afghan evacuees who fled their home country after the U.S. military exit; efforts emerge to help Native Americans gain more clean energy independence.

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Sen. Mitch McConnell refuses to support raising the debt ceiling; Biden administration pledges $500 million of COVID vaccine doses globally; and U.S. military says it's taking steps to combat sexual assault.

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A new Oklahoma museum honors tribal nations, while Iowa's history is back on the blacktop; mixed news on COVID-19 comes with a warning about unconventional drugs; and electric cars and buses are coming to rural America.

New Pick for BLM Encourages Conservationists

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Tuesday, May 11, 2021   

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- President Joe Biden's pick to head the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is getting high marks from conservationists.

Aaron Kindle, director of sporting advocacy for the National Wildlife Federation, believes Tracy Stone-Manning, currently the Federation's senior advisor, is the right person for the job.

There hasn't been a Senate-confirmed BLM director since 2017, and Kindle said the agency needs someone who understands what needs to be done to conserve, restore and steward America's public lands for all users.

"Responsible energy development, hunters and anglers, hikers, agricultural businesses that rely on the area for grazing," Kindle outlined. "We need somebody who understands all those things and is ready to work with all of those folks to get the job done."

If confirmed, Stone-Manning would be responsible for managing 10,000 employees, 245 million surface acres of land, and the nation's onshore mineral resources. She was a vocal critic of the Trump administration's moves to prioritize oil and gas drilling on public lands.

Kindle noted the biggest challenge facing Stone-Manning could be the BLM's about-face on fossil-fuel development, from rapid leasing under Trump to Biden's pause on oil-and-gas lease sales.

In March, 14 states filed lawsuits against the Biden administration, challenging the pause.

"Finding that sweet spot is going to be the biggest challenge," Kindle remarked. "Figuring out what the resources are we need to protect, but then, getting back to some semblance of what responsible energy development looks like. And then bringing in the renewables; renewables are not without impact as well."

An avid hunter, Stone-Manning previously served as chief of staff for Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, directing the state's Department of Environmental Quality.

Disclosure: National Wildlife Federation contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species and Wildlife, Energy Policy, Environment, Public Lands/Wilderness, Salmon Recovery, and Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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