Would-be Interior Secretary Heinrich lays out his vision — Friday, October 9, 2020 — www.eenews.net

New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich has a few recommendations for the next denizen of the White House: It’s time to overhaul the Interior Department and how the nation manages its public lands.

The Democrat — who is widely viewed as a potential pick for Interior secretary should Democratic nominee Joe Biden defeat President Trump next month — outlined his vision yesterday during an event hosted by the Outdoor Industry Association.

Heinrich called for a “national outdoor recreation plan” and described an Interior agency focused more on climate change than on extractive industry.

“We need a presidential administration to have a modern vision for public land management that’s really rooted in conservation and solving the climate crisis and very aware of the needs of all our recreation partners,” Heinrich said during the event, promoted as “The 2020 Election and Beyond: What’s at stake for the outdoor recreation economy? A conversation with Senator Martin Heinrich.”

The New Mexico lawmaker lamented that both Interior and the Forest Service continue to operate under “foundational laws” created to emphasize beef production, timber harvesting or ore extraction, arguing the modern economy “needs very different things.”

“Given the desire of Americans for outdoor recreation, environmental justice, climate solutions, the preservation of biodiversity, clean water and rural economic development, we really need to reorientate the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service toward those objectives,” he added. “The mission of public land management should really be focused on serving the American public and safeguarding the values that deliver all of those public benefits.”

While Heinrich said his proposed overhaul of Interior and the Forest Service, which operates under the Department of Agriculture, could be largely achieved via the executive branch, he also envisions congressional involvement.

“I think it’s an enormous opportunity,” Heinrich said. “I certainly wouldn’t wait until legislation passes to work on really orienting those two agencies toward outdoor recreation, but at the same time I do think it’s important that we have some legislative vehicles that also create bipartisan buy-in.”

Heinrich also revealed he is drafting legislation to address equity in outdoor recreation, praising a program in his home state as an example of what he would like to pursue.

“We have real work ahead of us to make sure that every single American, regardless of their race or their ZIP code or the size of their wallet, can find the same sense of belonging in our public lands and outdoor spaces,” Heinrich said.

He later added: “We are in conversations right now with a whole range of groups to figure out what that would look like and to draft legislation to do just that.”

Climate is everywhere

Heinrich noted he’d like to see any future Democratic administration aggressively address climate change policy.

“If there’s one thing this administration has taught us, is that an executive administration really does have power,” Heinrich said.

“While some of their decisions certainly haven’t withstood the court system, they were not afraid to make changes,” he added. “I

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Udall as Biden’s Interior secretary? The ‘signals are there’ — Wednesday, September 9, 2020 — www.eenews.net

New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall is on a short list of possible Interior secretaries if Joe Biden is elected president, according to former high-level Interior Department officials working on leadership and policy priorities for the former vice president’s campaign.

And Udall would be interested if asked, sources told E&E News.

The Democrat, who announced last year he would not seek a third Senate term, has made it clear he’s not retiring from public service. “I intend to find new ways to serve New Mexico and our country after I finish this term,” he said in March 2019.

With the presidential election now about two months away, major party candidates typically have think tanks compiling lists of potential Cabinet secretaries and priority issues that need day one attention.

To be sure, no final decisions have been made, and there are other names on the list of potential Interior secretaries being explored by this shadow group of advisers. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) and fellow New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich (D) are among those under consideration, sources said.

But Udall is at the top of the list, insiders say, citing his strong conservation track record during 12 years in the Senate and 10 years in the House, as well as his reputation for strong enforcement of environmental rules and regulations as New Mexico’s attorney general from 1990 to 1999.

“All the signals are there,” one official involved in the insider discussions said of Udall becoming Interior secretary.

Certainly the family lineage is there.

Udall’s father, Stewart Udall, served as Interior secretary under Presidents Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, and he’s considered one of the most successful and influential secretaries in the department’s more than 100 years.

Interior’s headquarters in Washington is named the Stewart Lee Udall Department of the Interior Building in his honor.

“Tom Udall as secretary of the Interior, that’s just a very natural speculation, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him on a short list if he’s interested in continuing his political career at this point in his life,” said Joe Monahan, a longtime New Mexico political blogger and commentator based in Albuquerque.

“If Joe Biden is looking for an easy pick,” Monahan said of Udall, “he is it.”

Biden, in accepting the Democratic nomination, has said his administration would focus on climate change and making America the world’s leader on renewable energy (Greenwire, Aug. 21). Those have been Udall’s top legislative priorities for the past several years.

Much like his father, Udall has gained a reputation nationally for a strong conservation ethic.

“Our nation’s public lands could not have better champions than Sen. Udall and his teammates in the New Mexico congressional delegation,” said Toner Mitchell, New Mexico water and habitat conservation director at Trout Unlimited. “His priorities on balancing public land use align well with these times we’re living through, with climate change and outdoor recreation figuring prominently in our communities’ abilities to sustain themselves.”

Udall has fought to protect open land near New Mexico’s

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