President Donald Trump intends to nominate a long-time Republican Hill staffer to help lead the nation’s largest land management agency.
Kate MacGregor has been a loyal foot soldier for Trump’s aggressive plan to drum up oil, gas and coal production on public lands. She’s currently Interior’s deputy chief of staff exercising the authority of the department’s deputy secretary. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, she’d officially become deputy secretary and David Bernhardt’s No. 2.
“Kate is a tremendous leader who has helped shape and strengthen the Department as we continue to execute our initiatives as outlined by President Trump," Bernhardt said in a statement.
At a congressional hearing in 2017, MacGregor said, “Public lands are integral to this administration’s ‘America First’ energy agenda and Secretary Zinke’s priority to maintain U.S. energy dominance by growing domestic energy production, generating revenue and creating and sustaining jobs throughout our country.”
MacGregor helped craft oil and gas policy agendas for Republicans on the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee—including as a senior staffer under Utah’s Rob Bishop—before joining Interior in 2017.
Jayson O’Neill, of the government watchdog group Western Values Project, said, “MacGregor seems to fit in with the other cast of characters we’ve seen in the Trump administration.”
His organization is a critic of the Trump administration’s public lands policies. O’Neill believes MacGregor and her cohorts prioritize energy development over environmental protections.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.