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REP America (Republicans for environmental protection) opposes the selection of Gale Norton
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Source: REP America

REP America (Republicans for environmental protection) opposes the selection of Gale Norton as Secretary of the Interior Statement delivered by Martha Marks, President of REP America, at a press conference in Washington, D.C., January 12, 2001

I did not want to be here today. I am a life-long Republican. I am a Republican elected official. And I had hoped that our new President would choose an Interior Secretary who was committed to the great conservation tradition of Theodore Roosevelt. We at REP America would have cheered such a nominee and defended him or her against partisan attacks.

But as Republicans who believe that conservation is fundamentally conservative, we are compelled to speak out against the nomination of Gale Norton. With so many pro-conservation Republicans qualified for this position, we cannot understand why President-elect Bush chose someone who holds views shared by only a minority in our party and the nation at large.

They say you can judge people by the friends they pick. Well, Gale Norton could have publicly distanced herself from the extreme anti-environment wing that inhabits a dark corner of our Grand Old Party. Instead she has embraced the views and leaders of those organizations that want to open our wildlife refuges to polluting development, stymie the recovery and protection of endangered species, and squander the gifts of public lands bequeathed to the American people by previous generations.

Nobody made her search out James Watt, who was perhaps the greatest embarrassment ever to the GOPís conservation record. Nobody made her pick an advisor like Terry Anderson, of the Political Economy Research Center, who advocates selling off all our public lands, from the Grand Canyon to the Everglades to Independence Hall. Terry Anderson even wants to sell off our military bases. I think most Americans would agree that this sort of, well... nuttiness, should be rejected out of hand. Yet Gale Norton apparently finds this manís views worth listening to, and she solicits his advice.

No one can deny that the GOP has an image problem when it comes to the environment. Our partyís own polls consistently show that a wide majority of Republican voters want strong, effective environmental protection. GOP pollsters say that a majority of Republicans donít even trust their own party to take good care of the environment. And I canít tell you how many times people have asked me if "Republican environmentalist" isnít an oxymoron. The nomination of Gale Norton, to put it mildly, does not help.

This is a divisive choice at a time when unity is sorely needed. We at REP America respect Gale Norton as a person and believe her to be sincere. And we truly hate to oppose a Republican presidentís cabinet nominee.

But the position we are talking about is too important for us to ignore. Gale Norton is the wrong choice for Interior Secretary. Her nomination sends a very bad signal to the American people. We will be urging President-elect Bush to withdraw it; and if he does not, we will ask our senators to vote against it.

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