Biden public lands nominee accused by GOP of 'ecoterrorism' headed to Senate floor
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee advanced President Joe Biden’s embattled nominee Tracy Stone-Manning on Thursday to head the Bureau of Land Management after centrist Democratic Chairman Joe Manchin of West Virginia endorsed her.
Manchin’s vote for Stone-Manning ensured the controversial nominee could advance the committee on a deadlocked 10-10 vote since all panel Republicans opposed her. It came after an emotional debate of her nomination that lasted nearly two hours.
Republican senators have accused Stone-Manning of having a past affiliation with an "ecoterrorist" organization and deceiving the committee regarding a three-decade-old “tree spiking” criminal case.
“It is hard to imagine a nominee more unqualified than Tracy Stone-Manning,” said Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, top Republican of the Energy Committee. “Her actions and her lies should cost her this nomination.”
Barrasso and other Republicans argue Stone-Manning is not forthcoming about the incident, in which she helped send a threatening letter to authorities informing them of the "spiking."
The opposition from all committee Republicans signals a tough vote on the Senate floor, although there are no signs any Democrat will oppose her.
Manchin said he has been unable to find evidence that shows Stone-Manning “was an ecoterrorist, spiked trees, or lied to the committee.”
He called her a “very well qualified problem solver” who has “brought people together.”
Sen. Martin Heinrich, Democrat of New Mexico, said he is "disgusted" about how Republicans waged a campaign against Stone-Manning and called their effort the "worst example of character assassination I have ever seen on this committee."
Stone-Manning, a strong advocate for public lands and conservation, enjoys broad support from environmental groups, conservationists, and local Montana officials.
She is a former director of Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality who currently serves as a senior adviser for the National Wildlife Federation.
Environmental groups and Democrats say Stone-Manning is highly qualified to lead the BLM, which manages hundreds of millions of acres of U.S. public lands. Supporters also accused Barrasso and Montana GOP Sen. Steve Daines of waging a smear campaign.
Stone-Manning worked in former Montana Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock’s administration, and Daines faced Bullock in a tough reelection race in the 2020 cycle.
Daines denied that attack, calling any tensions from that race "water under the bridge."