Biden hires more Arctic drilling opponents for Interior Department

Deb Haaland, at podium, spoke at a 2018 rally in Washington, D.C. to oppose drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She is President Biden’s pick to lead the Interior Department. (Liz Ruskin/Alaska Public Media)

The Biden Administration has announced more top positions at the Department of Interior, and they include at least two dedicated opponents of Arctic oil and gas development.

Marissa Knodel has been named as an advisor for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

She used to work for the environmental law firm Earthjustice. Her resume says her area of expertise is Arctic oil and gas leasing and regulations. It also says she managed a campaign at Friends of the Earth to stop new fossil fuel development on federal lands and waters.

Melissa Schwartz has been named communications director for Interior. She worked at the Bromwich Group, a Washington, D.C. consulting firm, where she helped groups trying to stop drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The new administration has also selected a law professor who argued a landmark Alaska subsistence case to work at Interior. Bob Anderson was chosen to be principal deputy solicitor. Anderson represented Athabascan elder Katie John, who won her case against the government to fish at a traditional fish camp that’s now part of a national park.

They will be working under Biden’s nominee for Interior secretary, Deb Haaland, who also protested plans to drill in the Arctic Refuge. Haaland, like all cabinet secretaries and many deputies and assistant secretaries, must be confirmed by the Senate.

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