The White House has withdrawn its nomination of Elizabeth Klein to become the Interior Department’s deputy secretary, as the Biden administration faced push back from Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, sources familiar with the situation said Monday.
Details: Klein is a former Obama administration official and deputy director of the State Energy and Environmental Impact Center at the New York University School of Law who focused on renewable energy and climate change issues. The Biden administration pulled her nomination after hearing of opposition coming from Murkowski, a moderate Republican whose vote is crucial to Biden’s legislative agenda and who has sought to expand the oil and gas industry in her state, one of the sources familiar with the matter said.
The White House and a spokesperson for the Department of Interior did not immediately respond to questions. A spokesperson for Murkowski did not reply to a request for comment. A spokesperson for Sen. Joe Manchin, the West Virginia Democrat who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that would have considered Klein’s nomination, did not immediately answer questions.
Tommy Beaudreau, a former Interior official under the Obama administration and Alaskan native, is being vetted for a possible nomination as deputy secretary, said two people familiar with the matter. Murkowski floated Beaudreau’s name as a possible replacement for Klein, the people said.
Beaudreau is currently a lawyer at law firm Latham & Watkins’ environment, land & resources department, and global co-chair of the firm’s project siting & approvals practice. Beaudreau did not reply to a voice message.
Context: Murkowski earlier in March said she struggled in deciding to cast her vote to clear from committee Biden’s nomination of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, citing concerns that the administration would hobble oil and gas production on public land. Klein, a progressive on energy matters, was considered a step too far to serve as second in charge at Interior with Haaland, who had faced heat from Republicans on her past comments criticizing the oil and gas sector, one of the sources said.
Klein wouldn’t be the first setback for the Biden administration’s raft of nominations. The White House recalled its nomination of Neera Tanden to lead the Office of Management and Budget earlier this month after Republicans complained about her posts on social media.
What’s Next: The Biden administration will have to vet a new candidate to propose for Interior’s deputy secretary position.