US Senator John Barrasso, the highest-ranking Republican on the Senate energy committee, said Friday that US Bureau of Land Management nominee Tracy Stone-Manning should be disqualified for her collaboration with “activists. extreme environmental “.
As a 23-year-old graduate student at the University of Montana, Stone-Manning sent a letter to federal officials in 1989 saying spikes had been inserted into trees in Idaho’s Clearwater National Forest. The letter warned that “many people could be injured” if the logging proceeded, according to court documents obtained by The Associated Press from federal archives.
Tree pricking involves inserting metal or ceramic rods into logs so that they cannot be safely cut, and the tactic has sometimes been used to stop timber sales.
Stone-Manning testified against two friends and former housemates who were convicted in the case, saying he sent the letter at the request of one of them and to prevent people from getting hurt. She was given immunity to testify and was never charged or convicted of any crime.
The case received extensive media coverage at the time, and Stone-Manning years later had to explain his involvement to Montana lawmakers before his confirmation to lead the state’s environmental agency under former Gov. Steve Bullock.
Her resurgence comes as some Republicans have tried to undermine Stone-Manning’s nomination, characterizing her as a partisan and environmental radical Democrat.
Barrasso, of Wyoming, said after seeing the documents in the case that Stone-Manning’s involvement should disqualify her from heading the Bureau of Land Management, which regulates grazing, energy drilling, logging and other activities at 245 million dollars. acres (100 million hectares) primarily in the west.
“Tracy Stone-Manning collaborated with eco-terrorists,” Barrasso said in a statement. “He worked with extreme environmental activists who punctured trees, threatening the lives and livelihoods of loggers. Although he was given immunity from prosecution to testify against his peers in court, his actions were shameful.”
Stone-Manning did not respond to phone and text messages upon seeing comments.
An administration official who asked not to be named 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, and finally testified against the person responsible, who was convicted,” said the person, who asked not to be identified as being unauthorized. to discuss a pending nomination.
During a hearing Tuesday before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Republican lawmakers, including Barrasso, questioned Stone-Manning about her record as a senior official at the National Wildlife Federation, where she frequently criticized the pro-agenda. -Trump administration industry.
Animosity toward her nomination reflects the anger of some Republicans over Stone-Manning’s role in the 2020 election. She served as treasurer and board member of the environmental group Montana Conservation Voters, which ran ads against Montana Republican Senator Steve Daines when Bullock unsuccessfully challenged him in November.
At the time of the tree explosion, Stone-Manning was an environmental studies graduate student new to Missoula. He also worked during that time as an informal spokesperson for the environmental group EarthFirst !, whose members gained notoriety in the 1980s for advocating “direct action” such as blocking timber sales to protect the environment.
As part of his involvement, he helped edit a newsletter called Wild Rockies Review and participated in satirical skits intended to draw attention to lumber sales, according to a transcript of his 1989 testimony.
In 2013, when questioned by Montana lawmakers about her involvement in EarthFirst !, Stone-Manning responded that she left because members of the group were “angry.”
“Anger doesn’t do long. It doesn’t solve problems. What I do is solve problems,” he said, according to a Missoulian article.
Beginning in 1999, Stone-Manning led a nonprofit group that pushed for the cleanup of one of the largest contaminated Superfund sites in the country, Montana’s Clark Fork River. She later worked as an assistant to Senator Jon Tester and Bullock’s chief of staff.
Tester introduced Stone-Manning during the Senate hearing and defended her after Barrasso criticized her environmental record.
“I wouldn’t be here today introducing her if I thought she’s the person you described,” Tester said. “He is a good person, who has a good heart, who understands the value of our public lands.”
Voting on his nomination has not been scheduled. It would take every Republican in the Senate and at least one Democratic lawmaker to block his nomination.