July 2021

Opinion: Biden’s personnel madness in Washington continues

The Biden administration continues to nominate people for senior positions that all seem to hate oil and gas. If one were bent on destroying the U.S. oil and gas industry, you’d be hard put to nominate people more diabolically effective at doing it than “Joltin’ Joe’s” (apologies to the last Joe Dimaggio) cast of characters.
Staff / World Oil

The latest example of Biden’s personnel philosophy (or is it just senility or cognitive dysfunction?) is his refusal to withdraw the nomination of Tracy Stone-Manning to be director of the Bureau of Land Management, which has authority over oil and gas leases on federal lands, even though she had connections to eco-terrorist group, Earth First. According to many media reports, Stone-Manning was a graduate student in 1989, when she mailed a letter to the U.S Forest Service, warning them that someone had spiked trees to prevent logging in Idaho’s Clearwater National Forest. In 1993, she was granted immunity and testified against two men she knew, who were eventually convicted of the crime.

Tree spiking involves driving a nail or metal rod into a tree. When a logger saws into the tree and hits the spike, it can break the chain saw and send pieces of metal flying. Used by environmentalists to discourage timber harvesting in certain areas, this tactic was made illegal in 1988.

Is the nominee truthful? Senate Republicans say her responses to a Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee questionnaire were "false and misleading," because she said she hadn't been the target of an investigation. They cite a July 14th letter sent to the committee from retired investigator Michael Merkley, who was part of the original investigation. Merkley said Stone-Manning knew she was being investigated for the 1989 incident.

Democrats say that since then, Stone-Manning has built a model career in environmental policy, working as an aide to Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and as chief of staff to former Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D), as well as head of Montana’s environment agency. She is currently the senior adviser for conservation policy at National Wildlife Federation

But does she retain her original extreme leanings? Do you want her running the BLM? We think not.

Meanwhile, her nomination was deadlocked, in a 10-10 vote of the Senate Energy Committee on July 22. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) was among the 10 Democrats voting yes. Shame on Sen. Manchin—he should know better. One has to wonder what kind of horse-trading and swapping of favors has gone on, for Manchin to support such a flawed nominee.

“It is hard to imagine a nominee more disqualified than Tracy Stone-Manning,” said Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), the committee’s top Republican, who was among 10 Republicans on the panel voting “no.” The committee’s 10-10 vote meant that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) needed to utilize a rarely used maneuver to “discharge” the nomination to the Senate floor.  In the meantime, the bureau’s handling of Biden’s federal lands leasing policy is on hold until Stone-Manning is confirmed or rejected on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

A series of dangerous mediocrity. Stone-Manning is the latest in a series of miserable Biden nominations affecting energy policy, including Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy. Speaking of Haaland, she came to Stone-Manning’s defense. Why are we not surprised?  We would be thrilled for the Senate to come to its senses and throw out Stone-Manning’s nomination, but that is not the likely scenario.


No, instead, we will be treated to a confirmation vote that results in a 50-50 tie along party lines. This will require Vice President Kamala Harris to run over to the Senate chamber ahead of time, and then act like she’s actually doing something by casting the tie-breaking vote in favor of Stone-Manning. It will be another low moment for American common sense.

About the Authors
World Oil
Related Articles
Connect with World Oil
Connect with World Oil, the upstream industry's most trusted source of forecast data, industry trends, and insights into operational and technological advances.