U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today called out the Biden administration for nominating an individual with ties to an eco-terrorist organization to head the Bureau of Land and Management. Thune noted that the nominee was involved in a tree-spiking plot, has referred to children as an “environmental hazard,” and promoted content that expressed satisfaction with the idea of seeing homes built in forests burn down.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, last week, the Senate voted to bring Tracy Stone-Manning’s nomination to the Senate floor.
“It’s difficult to know exactly what President Biden was thinking when he decided to nominate Ms. Stone-Manning for director of the Bureau of Land Management.
“Perhaps the administration’s vetting wasn’t thorough enough.
“Otherwise it’s pretty difficult to understand why the president would nominate an individual with ties to an eco-terrorist organization to head the Bureau of Land Management.
“Ms. Stone-Manning was involved with an eco-terrorist organization.
“And that’s not all.
“She was actually involved in a tree-spiking plot during her time in graduate school, sending a threatening letter to the U.S. Forest Service at the request of one of the individuals involved in spiking trees in an Idaho forest.
“Tree-spiking, as many know, involves hammering spikes into the trunks of trees to cripple chainsaws or the equipment at the sawmill where the trees are processed.
“It poses a significant threat to logging and mill equipment, but most seriously, it poses a serious threat to human life.
“In a famous incident, a worker at a lumber mill in California was engaged in splitting logs when his saw hit a spiked log and the saw exploded.
“I’ll let a Washington Post story covering the incident speak for itself:
“‘He was nearly three feet away when the log hit his saw and the saw exploded. One half of the blade stuck in the log. The other half hit Alexander in the head, tearing through his safety helmet and face shield. His face was slashed from eye to chin. His teeth were smashed and his jaw was cut in half. Alexander had never even heard of a sabotage tactic called tree spiking until he became a victim of ‘eco-terrorism.’ Someone who objected to tree cutting had imbedded a huge steel spike in the log that violently jammed the saw.’
“The Washington Post continued, and I quote, ‘Tree spikes are among the most vicious of the strategies. While the tree is still in the forest, the spike is driven in at an angle so the head is hidden in the bark. It can shatter a chain saw on impact, sending pieces of razor-sharp steel flying.’
“Mr. President, it is very hard for me to believe that we are seriously considering confirming an individual to head the Bureau of Land Management who was in any way involved with tree-spiking.
“Furthermore, Ms. Stone-Manning apparently initially refused to cooperate with the subsequent investigation into the tree-spiking incident, only coming clean after it became clear that she could face criminal charges for her role in the incident.
“Equally troubling is the less-than-forthright response she provided to the Senate on her nominee questionnaire about whether or not she had ever been investigated by a law enforcement organization.
“And, Mr. President, Ms. Stone-Manning’s involvement in the tree-spiking incident is not the only reason to be concerned that she has extremist views.
“As a graduate student she also argued for population control, in one instance referring to a child as an ‘environmental hazard.’
“Last year, she took advantage of Twitter to promote an article her husband wrote in which he expressed satisfaction at the idea of seeing homes people have built in forests burn in fires.
“Mr. President, President Obama’s first Bureau of Land Management director withdrew his support for Ms. Stone-Manning’s nomination over her involvement in the tree-spiking plot.
“A deputy director of the BLM under President Obama also expressed his concern over the nomination, noting, and I quote, ‘Much of the focus seems to be whether this is a Democrat or Republican thing, but the lens I look at this through is as a 38-year career person in both agencies, and that letter she wrote went to my Forest Service colleagues on the Clearwater … [Y]ou need the career employees to implement your agenda successfully across the West … Your leader has got to be respected by career employees and across the landscape, in both blue and red states.’
“His point is well-taken.
“How are BLM employees – and the many Americans who regularly interact with the Bureau of Land Management – going to feel about working with Ms. Stone-Manning?
“Our public lands are used for a variety of purposes, including recreation, livestock grazing, and timber harvesting.
“What kind of attitude should we expect Ms. Stone-Manning to display toward timber harvesting?
“Is this really the best President Biden can do when it comes to the director of the Bureau of Land Management?
“As 75 House Republicans said in a letter to President Biden urging him to withdraw the nomination, ‘There is no doubt that someone with this history of extreme, violent views should not be in a position of authority at an agency responsible for managing 245 million acres of federal lands and 700 million acres of mineral estate.’
“Mr. President, I wish I could say that Ms. Stone-Manning’s nomination is an aberration.
“But in fact President Biden has nominated a number of candidates with extremist views for various offices.
“Last week we voted on his nominee to head U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services – a nominee who failed to receive even a single bipartisan vote in committee, due in part to her refusal to say she won’t completely bypass Congress when fashioning policies to deal with those in the U.S. unlawfully.
“Then there’s the president’s nominee for head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, whose main interest seems to be targeting law-abiding gun owners – and who has communicated a clear disdain for gun owners in public remarks.
“This nominee was also apparently the subject of a complaint for making racist remarks while working at ATF.
“Then there are the multiple President Biden nominees now serving in the Department of Justice who have publicly expressed their support for defunding the police.
“President Biden filled key posts at the Justice Department – the department charged with enforcing the law and prosecuting criminals – with individuals who have gone on the record with their support for defunding the police.
“And I suppose it’s no real surprise that President Biden would nominate an individual to the Bureau of Land Management who once referred to a child as an ‘environmental hazard’ when you consider who he nominated to head up the Department of Health and Human Services.
“HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra’s rabidly pro-abortion views put him far to the left of the majority of Americans.
“Polls consistently show that a strong majority of Americans believe that there should be at least some restrictions on abortion.
“Yet President Biden’s HHS secretary doesn’t seem to support any restrictions on abortion.
“If he does I would sure like to hear about them.
“During his time in the House of Representatives, Secretary Becerra repeatedly voted against banning partial-birth abortion – an abortion procedure so heinous that I think most Americans would rightfully shrink from seeing it performed on an animal, let alone a human being.
“As I said, given that, I suppose it’s not hard to believe that President Biden nominated an individual to the Bureau of Land Management who once described a child as an “environmental hazard.”
“Mr. President, President Biden tends to present himself as a moderate and someone who will bring people together.
“’I pledge this to you,’ he said in his inaugural address, ‘I will be a president for all Americans.’
“In practice, however, too often he has seemed to be a president for the far-left wing of the Democrat Party.
“I hope my Democrat colleagues will think twice before confirming Ms. Stone-Manning as head of the Bureau of Land Management.
“Involvement with eco-terrorism should be a disqualifying factor for heading up this agency.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”