Senate Panel Splits on Confirming Stone-Manning to Lead Land Agency

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic majority leader, is expected to advance Tracy Stone-Manning’s nomination. Democrats say they have the votes to confirm her.


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Senate panel deadlocks over Biden’s nominee to lead the Bureau of Land Management.

Tracy Stone-Manning at a confirmation hearing in Washington last month. Democrats believe they have the votes to confirm her to lead the Bureau of Land Management despite Republican opposition.Credit…Alex Brandon/Associated Press

July 22, 2021, 11:31 a.m. ET

A heated Senate panel deadlocked along partisan lines on Thursday over the nomination of Tracy Stone-Manning, whom Republicans have accused of lying about her connection to a 1989 tree-spiking incident, to lead the Bureau of Land Management.

The 10-10 vote in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee means Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, must employ a rarely used maneuver to “discharge” the nomination to the Senate floor. Democrats have said they are confident they have the votes to ultimately confirm her.

Republican have alleged that Ms. Stone-Manning knew in advance about a decades-old plot to drive metal spikes into trees in Clearwater National Forest in Idaho in an effort to prevent the sale of old-growth timber. Ms. Stone-Manning, as a graduate student in Montana at the time, retyped and mailed a letter to the United States Forest Service on behalf of one of the activists who spiked the trees. She later testified, helping to convict two of the men involved, and has described her action as trying to warn the authorities.

“Tracy Stone-Manning collaborated with eco-terrorists and lied to our committee. Lying to the United States Senate has consequences. In this case her actions and her lies should cost her this nomination,” said Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, the top Republican on the panel.

Democrats challenged that version of events, and said the accusations against Ms. Stone-Manning are really about Republican objections to President Biden’s climate change agenda, which includes efforts to phase out oil and gas drilling on public lands and pivot the country to renewable energy.

The Bureau of Land Management is an agency within the Interior Department that oversees grazing, logging and drilling on 245 million acres of public land and manages 700 million acres of mineral rights. It is responsible for balancing oil, gas and coal extraction with recreation and the protection of natural resources.

Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico accused Republicans of “character assassination.” Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, the chairman of the committee, called the debate around Ms. Stone-Manning one of the most “emotional” the panel has held, and described her as a “youthful sympathizer” with radical environmentalists, who is guilty of no crimes and who went on to have an exemplary career.

“I have been unable to find any credible evidence in the exhaustive records of the tree-spiking case that Ms. Stone-Manning is an eco-terrorist,” Mr. Manchin said, adding, “What I find instead is compelling evidence that she built a solid reputation over the past three decades as a dedicated public servant and problem solver.”

Ms. Stone-Manning, 55, is currently the senior adviser for conservation policy at the National Wildlife Federation, a nonprofit conservation group. She served as the head of Montana’s environmental agency and as chief of staff to former Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana, a Democrat.

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