Idaho Governor is 'Gale Norton in Pants,' Will Continue Destructive Policies

Statement by Chuck Clusen, NRDC Land Program Senior Policy Analyst

WASHINGTON (March 16, 2006) -- Given the Bush administration's "drill first, ask questions later" approach to public land stewardship, it came as little surprise to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) when the president named Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne as the new secretary of the Interior, replacing Gale Norton.

Kempthorne amassed a dismal environmental record during his six years in the U.S. Senate in the 1990s, scoring a "0" on the League of Conservation Voters legislative scorecards for every year except 1993, when he scored a 6 percent rating on the basis of one minor vote.

Kempthorne became governor of Idaho in 1998. During his first four and a half years in office, the state's air got dirtier, more rivers were polluted, fewer polluters were inspected, and toxic emissions increased, according to a Knight Ridder analysis of Idaho pollution data from Environmental Protection Agency and state records ("Ex-EPA Foe Now In Line to Lead It," Philadelphia Inquirer, June 26, 2003). Kempthorne cut the state's environmental services budget three times in two years. Below is a statement by Chuck Clusen, NRDC senior policy analyst:

"President Bush could not have made a more anti-environmental choice for his new secretary of the Interior. Dirk Kempthorne surely will continue this administration's 'drill first, ask questions later' approach to public land stewardship.

"His abysmal environmental record as a senator and a governor speaks for itself. Dirk Kempthorne is Gale Norton in pants."