Thursday, December 18, 2008

Environmental Concerns About Interior Secretary Nomination

By Ben Trott

A number of news outlets are today reporting concern amongst environmentalists over the appointment of Ken Salazar as Secretary of Interior. The New York Times reported,
'Environmental advocates offered mixed reviews of Mr. Salazar, 53, a first-term Democratic senator who served as head of Colorado’s natural resources department and as the state’s attorney general. Mr. Salazar was not the first choice of environmentalists, who openly pushed the appointment of Representative Raul Grijalva, Democrat of Arizona, who has a strong record as a conservationist.

'Oil and mining interests praised Mr. Salazar’s performance as a state official and as a senator, saying that he was not doctrinaire about the use of public lands. “Nothing in his record suggests he’s an ideologue,” said Luke Popovich, spokesman for the National Mining Association. “Here’s a man who understands the issues, is open-minded and can see at least two sides of an issue.”'
The article quoted Keiran Suckling of the Center for Biological Diversity as saying,
'He is a right-of-center Democrat who often favors industry and big agriculture in battles over global warming, fuel efficiency and endangered species ... He is very unlikely to bring significant change to the scandal-plagued Department of Interior. It’s a very disappointing choice for a presidency which promised visionary change.'
Meanwhile, the Nation have run a piece arguing,
'Environmentalists wanted him to choose representative Raul Grijalva of Arizona, a progressive Latino who had fought the Bush administration's campaign to dismantle conservation laws and regulations. Salazar has compiled an 81 percent lifetime voting record from the League of Conservation Voters, so he's no Gail Norton [Bush's first Secretary of Interior]. But he endorsed Bush's selection of Norton to run interior in 2001, according to a statement by the Center for Biological Diversity, the nation's leading NGO on endangered species. The CBD also accused Salazar of having voted in Congress against better fuel efficiency, for off-shore drilling along the Florida coast and for continued subsidies for ranchers, miners and other commercial interests exploiting public lands.'
In the environmental news website Grist's coverage of the controversy around the nomination, Kate Sheppard argues that,
'Many activists, particularly among grassroots conservation groups in the West, are criticizing the pick, while some industry interests and big, mainstream green groups are praising Salazar.

'The opponents have been the most outspoken so far.'

No comments: