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Sierra Club Opposes Norton and Ashcroft


Bush Makes Wrong Choices for Interior Secretary and Attorney

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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