will soon vote on whether to accept George Bush's nomination
of Gale Norton as the Secretary of Interior. As
the highest environmental post in the nation, the Secretary
of Interior oversees 500 million acres of public land including
all National Parks, National Monuments, and Wildlife Refuges.
The Department of Interior also oversees the Bureau of Land
Management, Office of Surface Mining, U.S. Fish & Wildlife
Service, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Thus Norton will
have influence over hundreds of millions of acres of grasslands
and desert, all mining on state, private and federal lands,
implementation of the Endangered Species Act nationwide, and
the lives of millions of Native Americans.
WAR AGAINST THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR
career from her first law job at the Mountain States Legal Foundation
in 1979 under James Watt, to her stint at the Department of Interior
(also under Watt), to her role at Attorney General of Colorado,
to her current tenure at NL Industries (formerly the National Lead
Company) has been a war with the Department of Interior and federal
environmental laws. An extreme "states rights" and "devolution"
advocate, Norton has lobbied, litigated, preached, and tried to
manage federal environmental laws and lands out of existence. She
and her proteges have argued in court that the Endangered Species
Act and the Surface Mining Act are unconstitutional, even though
as Secretary of Interior, it will be her job to enforce them. They
have attacked Native American religious practices and fishing rights
even though as Secretary she will oversee the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
They challenged the ability of the National Park Service and U.S.
Fish & Wildlife Service to protect endangered species and parks.
She will also head those agencies if Congress approves her nomination.
is openly hostile to federalism, federal laws, and federal lands.
She is the antithesis of every value the Secretary of Interior is
trusted to uphold.
opposes federal laws requiring the removal of asbestos from schools
and is a lobbyist for a chemical company charged with poisoning
children with lead paint She has argued that pollution is a right,
not a crime. She submitted legal briefs supporting a lawsuit by
the oil industry to strike down a federal oil tax. Within minutes
of being nominated for Secretary of Interior she endorsed opening
the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.
Attorney General of Colorado Norton refused to defend a state law
guaranteeing minorities access to highway construction jobs. She
opposed implementation of the Americans With Disabilities Act, federal
civil rights statutes, the Violence Against Women Act, and asserted
that southern state's rights were trampled upon by the civil war.
is fellow at the Political
Economy Research Center which is funded by Amoco, ARCO, the
Chemical Manufacturers Association, Conoco, Eli Lilly and Co., Pfizer,
and Coors. It favors auctioning off all federal land to the highest
bidder. This includes the National Parks, National Monuments, Wildlife
Refuges, BLM land and historic Civil War battlefields that Norton
would be trusted with protecting as Secretary of Interior.
The 9th Circuit
Court of Appeals in San Francisco is currently considering a lawsuit
brought by the foundation aimed at overturning the $5 billion punitive
damages against Exxon Corp. in the Exxon Valdez oil spill off the
Alaska coast, the largest punitive damage award in the nation's
history. (See story)