1 of 5 | Rep. Deb Haaland, D-New Mexico, speaks Tuesday during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Photo by Jim Watson/UPI/Pool | License Photo
Feb. 23 (UPI) -- Republicans in the Senate on Tuesday peppered Rep. Deb Haaland with questions over fracking, fossil fuels and a past Twitter post during her confirmation hearing to be President Joe Biden's interior secretary.
Haaland, a progressive Democrat from New Mexico, is vying to become the first Native American to run the Interior Department, which would give her responsibility over 574 federally-recognized tribes in the United States.
During the Senate energy and natural resources committee hearing, Republicans asked Haaland about her views on fossil energy. A supporter of the Green New Deal and reducing the use of crude oil, she said in her opening remarks that she's open to finding a balance between the two.
"There's no question that fossil energy does and will continue to play a major role in America for years to come," Haaland said. "I know how important oil and gas revenues are to fund critical services.
"But we must also recognize that the energy industry is innovating, and our climate challenge must be addressed."
Haaland said she prides herself on dealing with issues in a bipartisan manner, which was applauded by Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, who also told the committee that she will listen to all sides.
Sen. John Barrasso criticized Haaland for a tweet last October in which she criticized Republicans for ignoring science in a comment about climate politics.
Barrasso also said the Biden administration's pause on gas and oil leases on federal lands will cost thousands of jobs.
"There are still thousands of leases and thousands of permits that are moving forward," Haaland responded. "I don't believe [Biden's pause] is a permanent ban."
Questioned about her views by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Haaland said climate change is a major threat and that she supports the administration's effort to create new jobs via the clean energy sector.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., a moderate Democrat who often sides with Republicans, did not give an indication whether he will support Haaland's nomination. He has already staked out a willingness to oppose others, notably White House budget chief nominee Neera Tanden.
"I have always believed that the president should be given wide latitude in the selection of his or her Cabinet, but I also take the Senate's constitutional obligation to advise and consent to the president's nomination seriously," Manchin said.
Manchin is regarded as a likely swing vote when the committee votes on Haaland's nomination.