Monday, September 21, 2009

Gale Norton :: Guilty of Payola Politics?

Did Gale Norton, Secretary of the Interior in the Bush Administration, sell out the environment for a cushy job with Big Oil?

That's what it looks like, and the Justice Department is investigating.

Norton works right now as an in-house lawyer in Denver for Royal Dutch Shell. In 2006, while she was still in office, her department granted three tracts in Colorado to a Shell subsidiary for shale exploration.

Also while in office, she had conversations with Royal Dutch Shell about future employment -- a clear ethical lapse.

Of course, nothing about Gale Norton was ever quite square.

This is a woman who used to be employed as a lobbyist for the National Lead Company.

A lead company?

Who suits up to work as a lawyer for a company than manufactures poison?

And what kind of Administration puts that kind of person in charge of our trout streams, our National Parks, our National Forests, and our wildlife?

Consider Norton's list of "accomplishments" as head of the Department of Interior:

  • Norton saluted the gutting of the roadless forest protection initiative.

  • Norton announced that the Interior Department was suspending any new designations of critical habitat for endangered and threatened species.

  • Norton fast-tracked oil leases in Alaska and Wyoming and mining claims in Idaho and Nevada.

  • Norton ordered the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to speed up new oil and gas leases in roadless areas of the Los Padres National Forest near Santa Barbara, home to more than 20 endangered species, including the condor and steelhead trout.

  • Norton opened up BLM lands to ATVs and Yellowstone National Park to more snowmobile traffic.

  • Norton was a fierce advocate for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

  • Norton moved to rescind critical habitat designations and protections for 19 species of salmon and steelhead in California, Washington, Oregon and Idaho, opening up more than 150 different watersheds for timber sales, construction and water diversion projects.

Gale Norton was not just toxic to the enironment -- she also seems to have surrounded herself with people who were "ethically challenged."

So am I surprised that Gale Norton is now under investigation for corruption by the U.S. Department of Justice?

Am I surprised that she sold out your public lands for her personal benefit?

Am I surprised to learn she is working for Big Oil?

No, no, and no. I would expect nothing less from Gale Norton.


sfox said...

An investigation of Norton is waaaay overdue. I have a friend who is a biologist for the Fish and Wildlife Sevice and, let me tell, it was very, very, very, very (you get the idea) long eight years for those folks.

Camera Trap Codger said...

I toured Norton around the National Zoo's CRC -- showed her our projects on native wildlife, migratory birds, endangered species recovery, and restoration ecology -- and was left wondering how someone so clueless about environmental issues could be selected to oversee Interior.

2CatMom said...

Personally I'm waiting for a bigger fish to fry. Namely one Dick Cheney who met with oil execs prior to setting energy policy.