The U.S. Senate confirmed Tracy Stone-Manning as director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) On Thursday, Sept. 30.

Tracy Stone was nominated by President Biden earlier this year to serve as Director of the BLM. That precipitated an intense debate between Democrats who supported the nomination and Republicans who charged that Stone is not qualified to hold the position due to her “criminal record.”

The Bureau of Land Management oversees about one-tenth of the nation’s land, predominantly in the West, and is central to President Biden’s climate goal of curbing fossil fuel extraction on public lands and transitioning to renewable energy.

The Senate confirmed her nomination to the post in an all-partisan election by a 50-45 vote. Republican Senators Rand Paul and Jon Cornyn did not vote.

The controversy began when it became known that Stone-Manning collaborated with a group of eco-terrorists who “tapped trees” during a 1989 Post Office timber sale process in Idaho when Stone was a college student. 

Tree tapping is a dangerous and illegal practice involving driving a piece of metal into the trunk of a tree to sabotage logging, endangering work tools and personnel handling them. 

She was accused of drafting and mailing a threatening letter to the Forest Service on behalf of the tree tappers. 

In 1993, Stone-Manning received a letter from a federal grand jury after the girlfriend of one of the suspects came forward to the FBI and identified those involved in the crime, reported Fox News.

Then, with the advice of a good lawyer, she was able to negotiate with prosecutors in the case for her freedom from guilt in exchange for testifying against her colleagues, sources familiar with the matter say.

Stone-Manning’s defenders in the Senate argue that she should be pardoned since her alleged criminal actions happened many years ago. 

While those who criticize her assert that, however many years ago the crimes may have been committed, she recently committed another crime by intentionally falsifying, concealing, and covering up her past involvement in these matters when she was questioned by the Senate.

Republican Senator John Barrasso, Ranking Member for Energy and Natural Resources expressed his strong opposition to Stone-Manning’s nomination in testimony before the full Senate saying:

“Tracy Stone-Manning lied to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee by claiming the tree spiking was ‘alleged’ and that she was never investigated. Now, we have confirmation that neither of those things are true. President Biden must withdraw her nomination.”

He also cited highly controversial Stone-Manning statements such as: 

“She has written articles and a graduate thesis supporting the idea of human population control,” Barrasso said. “And one year ago, she tweeted an article her husband had written calling for homes built in the forest—allowing them to burn during fires,” the senator continued.

The BLM director has a great responsibility, given that she assumes the authority to make unilateral decisions on how federal lands are used and managed. She also takes the difficult role of managing several thousand employees, including law enforcement officers, many of whom have given years of service to the Bureau.

It is also a strategic position to carry forward the green agenda that the Biden administration intends to impose, as it has been announcing since its election campaign.

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