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Green Groups Lobbying To See Rep. Grijalva Nominated For Interior Secretary


Groups are lining up behind Congressman Raul Grijalva for Interior secretary.

U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, who hasn't been bashful about criticizing President Bush's stewardship of public lands, should be the next Interior secretary, according to a far-reaching coalition of conservation and environmental groups.

In the past year or so the Democrat from Arizona has, among other things, published a scathing report on some of the Bush administration's public lands decisions; examined the problems of uncontrolled off-road vehicle use; accused Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne of pandering to the National Rifle Association when it came to rewriting gun regulations for national parks and national wildlife refuges and also called for a full Environmental Impact Statement on that rule change; and teamed with Rep. Nick Rahall, D-West Virginia, on legislation to provide $1 billion to help the National Park Service prepare for its centennial in 2016.

In a letter to President-elect Barack Obama, more than 100 groups called for Congressman Grijalva, who currently chairs the House parks subcommittee, to be considered for the job.

"The new secretary of the Interior must bring strong, focused leadership to the position in order to ameliorate the devastating effects of the Bush administration’s eight years of failed environmental policy. We strongly believe that Congressman Grijalva’s background and record show him to be a leader
ready for this challenge," reads the letter that was sent Monday by fax.

"As Arizona’s congressional representative, Congressman Grijalva has shown a broad range of passion and expertise for conservation and management of public lands. He has highlighted the Bush administration’s attempts to undercut science in favor of industry interests and sought ways to work with agencies and environmental groups to better protect public lands," they added. "For this, Grijalva has gained respect in the environmental community for his clear and decisive positions on sometimes complicated issues."

The letter outlined the Democrat's work in water issues, Native American concerns, environmental issues, and public land matters.

"Further, Grijalva’s leadership in the labor and Hispanic communities has allowed him to move beyond the long-held false dichotomies of environment vs. jobs and species vs. rural communities to promote better management and use of public lands. This is especially important because Hispanics are the fastest growing users of public lands in the West. Their interests have been largely ignored to date, even when those interests are harmed by federal land development and extraction and access policies," they added.

Groups signing the letter included:

* Alliance for the Wild Rockies
* Animal Advocates of the Inland Northwest
* Animal Protection of New Mexico, Inc.
* Animal Defense League of Arizona
* Arizona Mining Reform Coalition
* Arizona Wilderness Coalition
* Arizona Zoological Society
* Andean Tapir Fund
*The Association for Parrot C.A.R.E.
* Ballona Institute
* BEAR League
* Bear River Watershed Council
* Big Wildlife
* Biodiversity Conservation Alliance
* Black Hills Mountain Lion Foundation
* Black Mesa Trust
* Buffalo Field Campaign
* Californians for Western Wilderness
* Cascadia Wildlands Project
* Center for Biological Diversity
* Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice
* Center for Native Ecosystems
* Center for Sierra Nevada Conservation
* Citizens for the Chuckwalla Valley
* The Clinch Coalition
* Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection
* Coastal Law Enforcement Action Network (CLEAN)
* Community ORV Watch
* Connecticut River Watershed Council
* Conservation Northwest
* Conservation Voters New Mexico
* Conservation Science Institute
* Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society
* Desert Protective Council
* Desert Watch
* Door County Environmental Council
* ECO- The Ecological Conservation Organization
* Environmental Flying Services
* Federation of Western Outdoor Clubs
* Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics, and Ecology (FUSEE)
* Footloose Montana
* The Four Corners Institute
* Friends of Anderson Mesa
* Friends of Blackwater
* Friends of Ironwood Forest
* Friends of the Owls
* The Fund for Horses
* Fund for Wild Nature
* Gila Conservation Coalition
* Gila Resources Information Project
* Grand Canyon Trust
* Grand Canyon Wildlands Council
* Gravel Bar
* Great Old Broads for Wilderness
* Heartwood
* The Habitat Trust for Wildlife
* Higher Ground–Animal Advocates / Alabama Wildlife Advocates
* Humane Voters of Arizona
* Jewish Vegetarians of North America
* Kinship Circle
* Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center
* Living Rivers/Colorado Riverkeeper
* Los Padres ForestWatch
* Maricopa Audubon Society
* Mojave Group Sierra Club
* Mountain Cats Trust
* New Dawn Montana Farm Sanctuary
* New Mexico Wilderness Alliance
* Ocean Revolution
* O’Neill Sea Odyssey
* Orange County People for Animals
* Oregon Wild
* Oregon Wildlife Federation
* Other Nations Working Group
* Pacific Biodiversity Institute
* Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility
* Public Lands Without Livestock
* Red Rock Forests
* RESTORE the North Woods
* The Rewilding Institute
* Rio Grande Restoration
* Save Our Shores
* Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance
* Southwest Environmental Center
* Spirit of the Sage Council
* Sustainable Communities/ZERI-NM
* The Animal Protection Voters
* T & E, Inc.
* Tucson Audubon
* Umpqua Watersheds, Inc.
* Upper Gila Watershed Alliance • Vegetarian Advocates
* Western Nebraska Resources Council
* Western Watersheds Project
* Western Wildlife Conservancy
* Wetlands Defense Fund
* Whidbey Environmental Action Network
* White Mountain Conservation League
* WildEarth Guardians
* Wildlands Project
* Wildlife Alliance of Maine
* Wildlife Watchers
* Wild Wilderness
* World Temperate Rainforest Network
* 10,000 Years Institute


I am as cynical as anyone when it comes to this sort of thing; however, Raul Grijalva - if selected - would be a nice step toward thawing that cynicism. He is well aware of the issues facing parks and public lands and has been nothing short of amazing on issues related to Yellowstone (nowhere near his home base).

It would be most unfortunate if Obama chose Rep. Mike Thompson from California, who supported Bush's crazy healthy forests initiative.

Today, Kevin Gover is being floated around (see here and here) - he's a former DOI official in the Clinton Administration, a Pawnee Indian, and current director of the National Museum of the American Indian. He seems acceptable to most of the environmentalists I've heard from today who follow this issue. I don't know anything about him personally, but I personally would be suspicious of anyone from Clinton's DOI - at least on the issues I most care about. On the other hand, as I said, I don't know. It would be very good to have a native voice in the Administration.

I'm still hoping for Grijalva - it would give us a fighting chance on restoring sanity in public policy on issues ranging from energy exploitation in and around public lands to the ending of slaughter of buffalo in Yellowstone.

Jim Macdonald
The Magic of Yellowstone
Yellowstone Newspaper
Jim's Eclectic World

Grijalva looks like a very good choice, but he will have no real chance to get the job, as Arizona is already represented in the new cabinet by Janet Napolitano.

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