Protect the Public’s Trust, a government watchdog group filed a formal ethics complaint against Interior Secretary Deb Hasland of the Biden administration. They questioned her “impartiality” in relation to the decision to implement a ban on oil leasing in New Mexico.
Haaland banned oil, mineral, and gas leasing for 20 years within 10 miles of Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, in June. This stretch of land contains 53 allotments, which bring in approximately $6.2 million per year for 5,000 Navajo Nation residents.
Navajos resisted the ban on land leasing, estimating they would lose $194 million.
Buu Nygren, the Navajo Nation’s President, criticized the ban. He said that it would cause residents to be poor and undermine tribal sovereignty.
PPT director Michael Chamberlain said to Fox News Digital, that the watchdog filed an ethics complaint against Haaland “because she is anything but impartial.”
Chamberlain stated that “Secretary Haaland appears to have no qualms about taking part in matters concerning oil and gas leases in Chaco Canyon, despite her past statements and her family’s advocacy as well as her own on the subject which reveals her as anything but impartial.”
The complaint sent to the Inspector-General of the U.S. Department of the Interior explained that Haaland may have several “conflicts of interest” in relation to the decision to prohibit the land leases.
“Somah Haaland, Secretary Haaland’s child, is a prominent member of an activist organization that lobbied federal officials seeking to restrict oil and gas leasing in the area,” the complaint stated. “Somah Haaland narrated a film opposing oil and gas development in the region, a film in which Deb Haaland participated prior to her nomination to be Interior Secretary. During the film, and elsewhere, Ms. Haaland made public statements opposing oil and gas development in this area.”
The ethics complaint stated that, for these reasons, a “reasonable observer could question Secretary Haaland’s impartiality on the issue.”
It continued, “In fact not only could reasonable observer question Secretary Haaland’s impartiality, but we submit that experts in the field have already questioned it from almost every angle.”
Haaland was also accused of being biased by those who questioned his impartiality.
It said: “Media reports have highlighted the objections raised to Secretary Haaland’s involvement in the Chaco Canyon case by organizations like the Western Energy Alliance due to allegations that she has ‘conflicts’ of interest based on advocacy by both herself and Somah,” the statement read.
PPT demanded an immediate investigation of Haaland.
Fox News Digital was told by a spokesperson for the DOI that they hadn’t seen “the so-called complaint.”