Interior Secretary Gale Norton Resigns

Statement of Earthjustice executive director Buck Parker


John McManus, Earthjustice, (510) 550-6707

Gale Norton has spent the last five years as Secretary of the Interior promoting a policy that threw science out the window in order to give away our public resources to private industry. It’s time to change the policy, not just the face.

During her five-year tenure at the Interior Department, Gale Norton took every opportunity to undermine safeguards for public lands and the environment. Norton oversaw the opening of millions of acres of public lands to new oil and gas drilling, and brokered a deal to allow states to carve thousands of miles of roads across sensitive public lands. She also oversaw the expansion of devastating mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia.

Gale Norton will be especially remembered for her hostility towards America’s endangered species. She consistently rejected all efforts to protect and rebuild endangered species populations across the country, and punished government scientists who told the truth about their plight. News expected out of Seattle today, where the Pacific Fisheries Management Council will likely propose an option of virtually no west coast salmon fishing season this year, is a direct result of her department’s gross mismanagement of the Klamath River and can be laid squarely at her feet.

Thankfully, Gale Norton failed to achieve one of this administration’s cornerstone goals: opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. Norton’s full court press to turn the Refuge into another oil development complex has been repeatedly rejected by the American people who, unlike her, value one of the last great wild places on earth.

We hope the White House will take this opportunity to replace Gale Norton with an Interior Secretary who will strike a better balance in protecting America’s natural resources.

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