US Sen. John Barrasso, the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy Committee, said Friday that US Bureau of Land Management candidate Tracy Stone-Manning should be disqualified for her association with “extreme environmental activists”.
As a 23-year-old graduate student at the University of Montana, Stone-Manning sent a letter to federal officials in 1989 stating that spikes had been inserted into trees in Idaho’s Clearwater National Forest. The profanity letter warned that “many people could get hurt” if the logging proceeded, according to court documents obtained by the Associated Press from the federal archives.
Spiking trees involves inserting metal or ceramic rods into the trunks so that they cannot be cut safely, and the tactic is sometimes used to deter the sale of wood.
Stone-Manning testified against two friends who were convicted in the case, saying he had sent the letter at the request of one of them to stop hurting people. He was granted immunity to testify and was never charged with any crime.
The matter received widespread media coverage at the time, and Montana lawmakers had to explain their involvement before Stone-Manning was confirmed years later to head the state’s environment agency under former Governor Steve Bullock.
Its resurgence comes as some Republicans have sought to undermine Stone-Manning’s nomination, characterizing him as a partisan Democrat and environmental fanatic.
Barrasso of Wyoming, after looking at documents in the case, said that Stone-Manning’s involvement disqualified him from leading the Bureau of Land Management, which primarily deals with 245 million acres (100 million hectares) of grazing, energy. Regulates drilling, logging and other activities. in the west.
“Tracy Stone-Manning collaborated with eco-terrorists,” Barrasso said in a statement. “She worked with extreme environmental activists who cut down trees, threatening the lives and livelihoods of loggers. While he was exempted from prosecution for testifying against his comrades in court, his actions were shameful. “
Stone-Manning did not respond to telephone and text messages seeking comment.
An administration official who asked not to be identified said officials knew about the criminal case and Stone-Manning’s testimony prior to his nomination.
“She has always been honest and transparent about this matter, which has been covered by the media for decades,” said the person, who asked not to be named as they discussed a pending nomination. were not authorized to do so.
During Tuesday’s hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, GOP lawmakers, including Barrasso, grilled Stone-Manning over his record as a senior official at the National Wildlife Federation, where he continues to be a pro-industry agenda of the Trump administration. She was a critic.
“It sounds like, from your heart, you don’t really care about Republicans,” Republican Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana told Stone-Manning at the hearing.
Bullock told the AP during an interview Friday that “the election is over” and that Republicans were trying to scuttle his nomination at events 30 years ago.
The former Democratic governor said he knew about the tree-cutting incident when Stone-Manning was hired. One of the friends against whom he testified was sentenced to 17 months in prison on federal charges.
“She helped send a boy to prison 30 years ago when he was a college kid,” Bullock said. “It hasn’t been a secret at all.”
At the time of Tree Spiking, Stone-Manning was a recent environmental studies graduate student in Missoula. During that time he joined the loose-minded environmental group Earthfirst! He also served as the unofficial spokesperson of the U.S., whose members gained notoriety in the 1980s for “direct action” such as blocking the sale of timber to protect the environment.
As part of his involvement, he helped edit a newspaper called the Wild Rockies Review and took part in satirical plays aimed at drawing attention to the sale of wood, according to a transcript of a 1989 testimony.
In 2013, when Montana lawmakers called Earthfirst! When questioned about his involvement with, Stone-Manning replied that he had left because members of the group were “outraged”.
“Anger doesn’t do much. It doesn’t solve problems. What I do is solve problems,” she said, according to an article in Missoulian.
In 1999 Stone-Manning directed a non-profit group that advances the cleanup of Montana’s Clark Fork River, one of the largest contaminated Superfund sites in the country. He later served as an aide to Sen. John Tester and Bullock’s chief of staff.
Tester introduced Stone-Manning during a Senate hearing and defended her after Barrasso criticized her environmental record.
The vote on his nomination has not been determined. It would take every Senate Republican and at least one Democratic lawmaker to block his nomination.
Follow Brown on Twitter: @MatthewBrownAP