If you think the nomination
hearings for John Ashcroft as the next Attorney General will be
bruising, just wait for the hearing when Gale Norton, president-elect
Bush's choice for Interior Secretary, faces her opposition.
The January 2nd USA Today headline said,
"Norton is longtime friend of property rights." If there is
one thing that environmentalists hate, it is property rights and it is
the reason that out-going President Clinton has, in his final days,
has worked to deny the use of more than sixty million acres of the
nation's landmass. Behind this effort has been one of the most radical
members of his Cabinet, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt.
Norton, a former attorney general for Colorado
(1991-98) has served as an associate solicitor at the US Department of
the Interior, directing the legal staff of the National Park Service,
and was assistant to the deputy secretary of Agriculture, both during
the late 1980's. From 1979 to 1983, she had worked at the Mountain
States Legal Foundation, a major proponent of the "wise use"
movement that favors environmental protection, but is deeply committed
to strengthening property rights.
In brief, "wise use" is about the need
for this nation to utilize its vast reserves of timber, coal, oil,
gas, and other national resources. They also favor the use of public
lands for recreation that includes hunting, fishing, camping and
motorized-vehicle use. The Interior Department oversees and regulates
more than 400 million acres of federal land, largely in the West.
Norton's nomination quickly drew praise from groups
that include the American Land Rights Association, the Blue Ribbon
Coalition, The Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, Citizens for
Constitutional Property Rights, and the League of Private Property
Voters, among many others.
It is her enemies, however, that tell you
everything you need to know about the objectives of the Greens. Brent
Blackwelder, president of Friends of the Earth, called her nomination
"a declaration of war on the environment." Alhyssondra
Campaigne of the Natural Resources Defense Council called it "a
real slap in the face for the majority of Americans who want our parks
and public lands protected from exploitation by well-financed mining,
oil and other polluting industries." Karl Marx could not have
said it better.
Carl Pope, the executive director of the Sierra
Club, said, "Norton's record sends shivers down our spine"
citing her opposition of regulations "designed to protect the
These multi-million dollar environmental groups
have been calling the shots at Interior during the Clinton-Babbitt
years, finding ways to shut off this nation's access to billions of
dollars of natural resources needed for energy independence along with
the jobs and taxes generated when minerals of every description can be
mined, oil extracted and refined, and trees can be harvested. The
Greens have never met a rancher, farmer or private forest owner whose
land they would not seize in a hot minute.
Here's what Norton has said: "Innovative
environmental policies come about when the states can act as
laboratories of democracy. Furthermore, the states are important in
the Federal/state environmental partnership because there is no such
thing as one-size-fits-all government. The states, where government is
closer to the people, are the proper entities to implement
environmental laws and policies."
This is precisely what the Founding Fathers had in
mind when they drafted the Tenth Amendment. It says "The powers
not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited
by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to
the people." You can search the Constitution for the word
"environment" and never find it. You will, however, find
prohibitions against depriving people of their property "without
due process of law."
Neither the States, nor the people, particularly in
Western States, have had much to say about the Clinton mania for
"a legacy" based on depriving Americans of access to and the
use of their own lands. The Federal government owns about one quarter
of the entire landmass of the nation, when you add military bases and
other property to that of the national forests and parks.
The selection of Gale Norton signals a major shift
in policy and the Greens know it. The time has arrived at last to
begin the long process of undoing the damage inflicted by the feckless
Alan Caruba is the founder of The National Anxiety Center, a
clearinghouse for information about scare campaigns designed to
influence public opinion and policy. The Center maintains an Internet
site at www.anxietycenter.com.