March 10, 2006


President's Statement on Secretary of Interior Gale Norton (George W. Bush, 3/10/06)

Gale Norton has been a strong advocate for the wise use and protection of our Nation's natural resources and a valuable member of my Administration for more than five years. As the first woman Secretary of the Interior, she served the Nation well with her vision for cooperative conservation, protection and improvement of our national parks and public lands, and environmentally responsible energy development on public lands and waters.

She was instrumental in establishing my Healthy Forests Initiative that has helped make communities safer from catastrophic fire, while improving wildlife habitat. Gale played an influential role in shaping the Nation's offshore and onshore energy policies to help enhance America's domestic production. When Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast region, she played a leading role in my Administration's efforts to restore badly needed offshore energy production to avoid further supply disruption and higher energy costs for consumers. Because of her leadership and thoughtful attention to management, repairs, and maintenance issues, Americans will be able to better enjoy our great national parks and wildlife refuges for generations to come. I appreciate Gale's dedicated service to our country, and I wish Gale and John all the best.

Interior's Norton had big impact on West (Craig Welch, 3/11/06, Seattle Times)
Perhaps no one person has done more in the past five years to alter the landscape of the rural West than Gale Norton, who resigned Friday as Interior secretary.

She opened the Rocky Mountains and much of the North Slope of Alaska to oil and gas development. She all but banned new protected wilderness areas on the federal land under her control. And she urged the Bureau of Land Management to seek more logging on 2.5 million acres in Western Oregon.

Norton, who leaves office at month's end, personally oversaw a messy water war in Oregon's Klamath River basin in 2002 that eventually resulted in irrigation for farmers while more than 60,000 fish died. The river is still in such ill health that chinook fishing may be shut down along vast stretches of the West Coast.

Her Interior Department gave millions of dollars to landowners to deal with endangered species. But her agency also frequently overruled scientists — dramatically paring back Northwest land recommended for habitat for troubled bull trout, and dismissing advice on protecting marbled murrelets.

Timber-industry and oil officials loved her. Many conservationists feel like Rodger Schlickeisen, president of the advocacy group Defenders of Wildlife: "Good riddance."

But in the end, Norton's legacy in the West is more complicated than that.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 10, 2006 4:38 PM

She also apparently got the Bureau of Indian Affairs finances in order -- at least I haven't heard any complaints lately from the courts.

Posted by: jd watson [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 10, 2006 5:30 PM

jd, Has she really gotten BIA in order? That would be great news. I thought there were bilions to be accounted for. Another issue I suppose.

Posted by: jdkelly at March 10, 2006 6:19 PM


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