President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Bureau of Land Management will sit for a nomination hearing Thursday, where she is expected to face pushback from Republicans who have called for her nomination to be withdrawn.
Biden nominated Tracy Stone-Manning to lead BLM in April, but her connections to radical environmentalists in the 1980s quickly landed her in controversy. Republicans on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee sent a letter last week calling on Biden to retract the nomination, pointing to Stone-Manning’s alleged involvement in “tree spiking.”
Tree spiking is a dangerous practice of some more radical environmentalists, critics of the practice say. It involves hammering metal spikes and nails into trees, often near the base, so that when the tree is cut down or processed in a logging facility it will damage saws. This practice can seriously injure or kill workers when the saw breaks upon impact with the unexpected metal rods.
“A logger or sawmill worker may suffer serious injury or even death if his or her saw cuts into a tree spike and breaks,” the letter says. “In fact, the lives of the head sawyer and other sawmill workers at Plum Creek Manufacturing’s sawmill in Pablo, Montana were endangered when their saw hit one of the tree spikes from the 1989 incident. Wildland firefighters are also at risk from tree spikes. It is our understanding that some of the tree spikes from the 1989 incident are still in place and remain a serious threat to public safety today.”
The letter goes on to allege Stone-Manning was dishonest during previous testimony because she said she had not been involved in tree spiking and had never been under federal investigation. Later, others contradicted that testimony and said Stone-Manning had been involved in planning the tree-spiking.
Stone-Manning has admitted she sent a letter warning the Forest Service about the spikes but has denied she was involved in putting them in place.
“We do not make this request lightly,” the letter says. “Ms. Stone-Manning has made false and misleading statements in a sworn statement to the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources [Committee] regarding her activities associated with an eco-terrorist cell whose tree spiking in Idaho’s Clearwater National Forest in 1989 put lives at risk.”
Stone-Manning has not responded directly to all the allegations, but will likely have her opportunity during the hearing Thursday.
When asked Monday if the growing opposition to Stone-Manning’s nomination had swayed President Joe Biden, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said it had not.
“[Biden] stands by his nominee and looks forward to her getting confirmed,” Psaki said at a press briefing.
Biden’s nominee has also faced opposition from advocacy groups, adding to the mounting pressure that will be on display at Thursday’s confirmation hearing.
“Joe Biden’s nomination of a woman with known ties to eco-terrorist organizations shows what little regard he has for America’s workers,” said Daniel Turner, founder of the energy workers advocacy group, Power the Future. “This person was aligned with groups whose very actions maimed and tried to kill workers. She is unworthy of any position in a just world, but Joe Biden’s desire to appease the radical green movement supersedes decency or a commitment to civility.”
Larry Behrens, Western States Director of Power The Future, called on New Mexico’s U.S. senators to vote against her confirmation.
“New Mexico’s senators should not approve of misleading statements and even worse, dangerous tree-spiking activity that potentially put lives at risk,” Behrens told The Center Square. “Senators [Martin] Heinrich and [Ben Ray] Lujan have enthusiastically supported every radical nominee put forth by this administration, but they need to draw a line when a nominee has engaged in hateful behavior.”
The Center Square is a 501(c)(3) non-profit focused on state- and local-level government and economic reporting.