U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) delivered the following remarks on the nomination of Robert Anderson to be solicitor of the Department of the Interior.
Barrasso is ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR).
Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“The Senate is about to vote on the nomination of Robert Anderson to serve as solicitor of the Department of the Interior.
“I am here to tell you that I oppose this nomination.
“If confirmed, Mr. Anderson will serve as the department’s chief attorney and as principal legal adviser to the secretary of the Interior, Secretary Haaland.
“He would oversee more than 430 attorneys and staff within six legal divisions.
“He would be responsible for ensuring that business conducted at the Interior Department follows the law and is done transparently.
“He would be granted tremendous power to shape how the department fulfills its mission by issuing final legal interpretations on all matters within the jurisdiction of the department.
“These decisions directly impact homes and businesses in Wyoming and throughout the nation.
“These decisions can make or break our nation’s ability to protect our environment, to use and enjoy our natural resources, to create good-paying jobs, and to pay for services such as public education.
“Over the course of his career, Mr. Anderson has both taught and practiced law, primarily focused on Tribal issues.
“I am concerned that Mr. Anderson lacks sufficient legal experience beyond Tribal law to effectively navigate the complex web of issues governing the multiple-use of public lands and federal lands.
“I am very concerned by Mr. Anderson’s actions, specifically actions he has taken as principal deputy solicitor since January 20 of this year.
“He has revoked many solicitor’s opinions issued under the Trump administration.
“His work has paved the way for the Biden administration’s punishing policies that are in direct conflict with the Department of the Interior’s multiple-use mandate.
“Mr. Anderson’s responses to questioning by Senator Cassidy during his nomination hearing were particularly concerning to me.
“Senator Cassidy asked whether the nominee agreed that the requirement to ‘maintain’ oil and gas leasing program meant to ‘lease some more…not just maintain the leases that we’ve already leased… but to continue leasing.’
“Mr. Anderson responded that he thought it was an open question.
“To suggest that the secretary is no longer required to plan for and hold new offshore oil and gas leases sales, unfortunately, but truly ignores the law of the land.
“Let me be clear: the secretary of the Interior is required to comply with the law, like everyone else.
“Mr. Anderson’s willingness to put the Biden administration’s war on American energy ahead of following established law disqualifies him from serving as solicitor.
“I will vote against Mr. Anderson’s nomination.
“I urge other senators to do the same.”