Sierra Club Opposes Norton and Ashcroft
SIERRA CLUB MOUNTS VIGOROUS CAMPAIGN TO DEFEAT NORTON AND ASHCROFT Bush Makes Wrong Choices for Interior Secretary and Attorney General Washington -- The Sierra Club today launched campaigns to oppose President-elect George W. Bush's nominations of Gale Norton as the Secretary of the Interior and John Ashcroft as Attorney General. Both nominees have dismal environmental records. "Gale Norton would be a natural disaster as Interior Secretary. Norton is the oil, mining and timber industry's choice. She favors increasing the commercial and environmentally destructive development of our national parks, forests and wild lands," said Carl Pope, Executive Director for the Sierra Club. Norton formerly worked at the extremist Mountain States Legal Foundation, where she was a protege of James Watt. Watt was later ousted as Secretary of Interior for his radical anti-lands agenda. During the Reagan administration, Norton served as associate solicitor at the Interior Department, authoring legal opinions to support drilling the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, an issue that will be hotly debated at the beginning of the 107th Congress. Norton has also labeled government protections of endangered species an example of excessive regulation. Norton is also the founder and serves on the advisory committee of the Coalition of Republican Environmental Advocates (CREA), which is considered by the Republicans for Environmental Protection (a legitimate GOP environmental group) to be "a transparent attempt to fool voters who care about environmental protection." Contributors to CREA include several energy companies and associations representing the mining, logging, chemical and coal industries. Norton is a strong advocate of Colorado's "self-audit" law, which gives businesses immunity from legal penalties if they report and correct their violations of environmental standards. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has objected to these self-audit laws. Bush's nomination of John Ashcroft, former senator from Missouri, is equally disappointing. "In light of his poor environmental record and his open hostility to most environmental laws, how can we expect Senator Ashcroft, as Attorney General, to enforce environmental laws?" said Pope. While in the Senate, Ashcroft voted against additional funding for environmental programs including the Clean Water Action Plan and toxic waste cleanups at Superfund sites. He also voted in favor of a bill to roll back clean water protections, to prevent the EPA from enforcing arsenic standards for drinking water, and to allow mining companies to dump cyanide and other mining waste on large areas of public lands next to mining sites. Ashcroft also opposes campaign finance reform. He voted against the McCain-Feingold bill for a complete ban on soft money contributions to political parties. This bill would have closed a loophole that allows mining, timber and other interests to gain influence by contributing huge unregulated sums of money to political parties. To block their appointments, the Sierra Club will be mobilizing its more than 630,000 members, working in coalition with other environmental and progressive groups and using radio, television and newspaper advertisements to educate the public about the bleak environmental records of Norton and Ashcroft.
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