Senate Committee Advances Controversial Interior Nominee Despite Conflicted Past, Industry Allyship

MacGregor Misled Congress In Answer at Confirmation Hearing

The nomination of Kate MacGregor to be Interior’s Deputy Secretary was advanced out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee despite her deep ties to industry, her own conflicted history, and her misleading answer on her involvement in canceling a scientific health study on the impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining. 

“Interior deputy secretary nominee Kate MacGregor is following in her boss’s footsteps: a former lobbyist, an ally to industry, misleading answers under oath, and someone with a history of putting special interests ahead of public interests. It’s surprising that the committee would advance another conflicted nominee given the Trump administration’s track record of undermining public lands,” said Jayson O’Neill, Deputy Director for Western Values Project. “Secretary Bernhardt runs Interior like his own personal lobbying shop, and he promoted MacGregor to help do his bidding behind the scenes. While Trump’s swamp team continues to dole out favors to special interests, our public lands continue to suffer.”

During MacGregor’s nomination hearing, she responded to Senator Mazie Hirono’s (D-HI) that she had not been involved in or witnessed instances of political interference in scientific research or communication. Emails obtained by and reported on by the Pacific Standard show that MacGregor was ‘keenly interested’ in a scientific study on mountaintop removal coal mining’s health effects. MacGregor went as far as emailing the then-acting director of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation, ordering the acting director to update her when the study had been canceled.

MacGregor’s committee vote is especially suspect because of recent news that she helped fast-track and approve an oil drilling permit even when Bureau of Land Management (BLM) career public servants determined it was “incomplete” and “deficient.” Audio obtained by Reveal and shared with Western Values Project shows a new mantra for many oil and gas industry representatives and lobbyists: “We’ll call Kate” became the go-to solution when the oil and gas industry had issues with permitting requirements.

Kate MacGregor has yet to answer several critical questions concerning her record, allyship to oil and gas industry, views on the dangerous BLM move, and connections to Interior Secretary Bernhardt’s conflicted past with the Westlands Water District. 

Western Values Project (WVP) joined dozens of other conservation organizations in sending a letter to committee members urging them to reject her nomination because of her track record driving a so-called “energy dominance” agenda for Interior, her troubling anti-conservation views, opposition to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and a demonstrated bias in favor of extractive industries.

A full profile on Kate MacGregor is available on WVP’s Department of Influence website, a one-stop-shop documenting Trump and Bernhardt’s revolving door between special interest lobbyists and political appointees at Interior.

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