On Tuesday, the Biden administration promoted a Department of the Interior official who had previously been overlooked for a lower-level position within the agency due to her strong advocacy for climate policies.
The Department of the Interior (DOI) announced the appointment of Laura Daniel-Davis, who currently holds the position of principal deputy assistant secretary of land and minerals management, as the acting deputy secretary. This role is the second-highest position within the agency and is effective immediately.
In March, Daniel-Davis’s nomination for the position of deputy assistant secretary was rejected, primarily due to opposition from Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), who expressed concerns about her clear prioritization of climate-related initiatives over energy security.
In response to her promotion, Laura Daniel-Davis expressed her honor at serving as Acting Deputy Secretary, emphasizing the Department of the Interior’s impact on all Americans. She pledged to continue working in partnership with states, tribal communities, industry, nonprofit organizations, and academia, with a focus on ensuring that decisions are guided by the best available science as they fulfill commitments to the American people.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland praised Daniel-Davis’s extensive experience and expressed confidence in her invaluable contributions to advancing a clean energy future, honoring commitments to Indigenous communities, and leaving the environment in a better state for future generations. Haaland noted that Daniel-Davis had been a dedicated colleague for the past two and a half years.
Laura Daniel-Davis had previously held a leadership role within the National Wildlife Federation, an organization aligned with Democratic policies advocating for progressive climate initiatives. She also had prior experience within the DOI during both the Clinton and Obama administrations and had provided guidance on energy policy to former Representative Mark Udall (D-CO).
This promotion for Daniel-Davis coincides with the departure of Interior Deputy Secretary Tommy Beaudreau. Beaudreau had previously received Senate confirmation in a bipartisan vote in June 2021 and had played a vital role in overseeing a wide range of key initiatives within the DOI. Notably, he had a significant role in the approval of a major oil drilling project in Alaska.
Despite having been nominated for the position on two occasions, Daniel-Davis had not succeeded in securing Senate confirmation, as she faced opposition in two separate votes within the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Members of the committee, primarily Republicans, consistently expressed reservations about her stance on energy-related issues.
Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), who serves as the ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, strongly criticized Daniel-Davis’s efforts, asserting that she had worked to make American energy more expensive. He noted that, during her tenure as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management, she had obstructed access to critical minerals and placed restrictions on oil and gas leasing on federal lands.
Barrasso highlighted her opposition to unleashing American energy, characterizing her agenda as extremely progressive. He concluded that promoting her to a more influential position demonstrated the Biden Administration’s unwavering commitment to a radical, anti-American energy agenda.