Feinstein and Boxer Urged to Oppose Norton Nomination

Environmental Groups Say Interior Nominee Threatens California’s Natural Resources

San Francisco (January 18, 2001) - A coalition of environmental groups representing millions of Californians is urging Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer to oppose the nomination of Gale Norton as Secretary of the Interior. The groups say Norton would allow industry and other private interests to exploit more than 13 million acres of public land and other resources in California.

In identical letters delivered to the senators today, the groups wrote, "We do not ask this lightly, but rather on the basis of Ms. Norton's long record of condemning basic federal resource stewardship and her strong support for extreme ‘property rights’ and ‘wise use’ causes. Her positions and beliefs are fundamentally incompatible with the Secretary of Interior's responsibilities for the stewardship of our precious natural resource heritage wherever located, but especially here in California."

According to the coalition of more than 50 national, state and local environmental groups led by NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) and including The Wilderness Society, Sierra Club, and California League of Conservation Voters, Norton’s support of drilling in a place as pristine and unique as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska means she would be willing to sacrifice extraordinary California places, including the state’s outer continental shelf and fragile deserts.

The groups say Norton's career and public statements reveal that she advocates a "fox in the henhouse" approach and that she has associated herself with representatives of the mining, logging, and oil drilling industries and has advocated policies and positions that favored those interests, rather than the public interest.

"Gale Norton’s views are simply incompatible with the legal responsibilities of the Secretary of Interior," says Johanna H. Wald, land program director of NRDC. "She has advocated paying compensation to property owners who are affected even slightly by government laws and regulations."

"Norton’s philosophy could lead to policies that weaken protections for federal lands and resources in California and could thwart implementation of the Calfed program to restore the Bay-Delta ecosystem and improve water supply reliability," says Barry Nelson, senior policy analyst at NRDC.