[env-trinity] New York Times Editorial March 12
bwl3 at comcast.net
Sun Mar 12 17:24:19 PST 2006
Gale Norton Resigns
Published: March 12, 2006
Like her mentor, James Watt, the maniacally anti-environmental interior
secretary under Ronald Reagan, Gale Norton came to Washington convinced that
the pendulum of public policy had swung too far in favor of the protection
of America's natural resources at the expense of their commercial
exploitation - especially by the oil, natural gas and mining industries.
In this she was little different from the other ideologues whom President
Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney picked to fill most of the
administration's important environmental posts. But as the cheerful, upbeat
face of a retrograde public policy, she may have been the most successful of
In public Ms. Norton spoke winningly of what she called her four C's:
"cooperation, communication and consultation, all in the service of
conservation." But this was little more than comfy language diverting
attention from her main agenda, which was to open up Western lands, some of
them fragile, to the extractive industries. Perhaps her signature moment was
a secret deal in 2003 with Mike Leavitt, then governor of Utah, in which she
not only exposed 2.6 million acres of previously protected lands to
commercial development but also renounced her statutory authority to
recommend additional lands for wilderness protection. There will be no new
wilderness under my watch, she seemed to say, but there will be oil and gas.
The agency she leaves behind is not a particularly happy one. Many National
Park Service employees oppose her rewrite of the service's management
philosophy, a rewrite favoring recreational use over conservation.
Biologists at the Fish and Wildlife Service have complained of political
interference. Her emasculation of the mining laws pleased few outside the
industry. The White House has hacked unmercifully at key departmental
programs - including the vital Land and Water Conservation Fund, which Mr.
Bush vowed to protect - without audible complaint from the secretary.
Ms. Norton has been an extraordinarily faithful steward of the Bush agenda -
but not, we are sad to say, of the lands she was obliged to protect.
Chair, Friends of Trinity River
Advisor, California Trout, Inc
PO Box 2327
Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327
415 383 4810 ph
415 383 9562 fx
bwl3 at comcast.net
bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org
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