New Mexico congress splits on party line for BLM director nominee

Tracy Stone-Manning, a former leader of multiple environmental and conservation groups, was nominated by President Joe Biden to serve as director of the Bureau of Land Management, sparking a debate in New Mexico along party lines on her background and alleged ties to eco-terrorism.

New Mexico’s Democrat congressional delegation, U.S. Sens. Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan signaled early support of the nominee, while the state’s lone Republican in Congress U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell questioned if Stone-Manning was the right person for the job.

The decision to confirm Stone-Manning is consequential for New Mexico as The BLM oversees oil and gas development on federal lands, on which more than half of New Mexico’s fossil fuel development occurs.

More:BLM cancels oil and gas leases for second quarter of 2021. New Mexico could lose millions

The industry makes up more than a third of the state’s budget, with the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association estimating about $1 billion in revenue comes to the state from operations on federal land.

Tracy Stone-Manning, nominated to direct the Bureau of Land Management, at her confirmation hearing on June 8, 2021.

Upon her nomination, Stone-Manning was repeatedly criticized by Republicans and others for her role in a 1989 incident when she allegedly typed a letter from an anonymous person to the  U.S. Forest Service warning that someone had hammered metal spikes into trees that were to be cut down for timber, per documents obtained by the Washington Post.

The “tree-spiking” incident led Republicans in Congress to accuse Stone-Manning of putting lives at risk, arguing such actions disqualified her from overseeing the federal agency tasked with managing such industries.