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E-M:/ Michigan Groups Rally to Oppose Norton

Enviro-Mich message from "Daniel Farough" <daniel.farough@sierraclub.org>

Sierra Club News Release
109 East Grand River, Lansing, MI 48906 – Ph: 517/484-2372 – Fax

  For Immediate Release:						Contact:
  Thursday, January 18, 2001	Alison Horton or
									Dan Farough, or Alison Horton
									(517) 484-2372

Michigan Groups Rally To Oppose
‘Special Interest’ Nominee To Interior


LANSING – A coalition of environmental and public health groups in Michigan
rallied today to oppose President-elect George W. Bush's nomination of Gale
Norton as the Secretary of the Interior.  The groups are calling upon
Senators Levin and Stabenow to vote against the Norton nomination.  "Gale
Norton would be a natural disaster as Interior Secretary.  Norton is the
oil, mining and timber industry's choice, not the publics’.  She favors
increasing the commercial and environmentally destructive development of our
national parks, forests and wild lands," said Alison Horton, Michigan
Director for the Sierra Club.  “This is an extremely divisive choice, and a
far cry from the uniter and healer George W. Bush claims to be.”

The Michigan-based groups point to a history of antipathy toward
environmental safeguards and public lands and Norton’s lengthy work
representing polluters and extremist special interest groups as reason
enough for Senator Levin and Stabenow to vote against her.

In 1997, Norton co-founded the so-called Coalition of Republican
Environmental Advocates (CREA), which is considered by fellow Republicans
from 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 formerly worked at the extremist Mountain States Legal Foundation,
where she was a protégé of James Watt.  Watt was later ousted as Secretary
of the 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.

For the past two years, Gale Norton worked as a chief lobbyist for NL
(National Lead) Industries.  The company faces lawsuits claiming it hurt
children with lead paint and is listed as a defendant in 75 superfund and
toxic waste sites around the country.  “Giving Gale Norton, a special
interest lawyer who has taken the most extreme positions to defend
polluters, the keys to 500 million acres of public lands is like putting an
atheist in charge of the church,” said Lana Pollack, President of the
Michigan Environmental Council.  “Gale Norton does not believe in the
sanctity of our public lands or the very mission of the Interior Department.
Senator Levin and Stabenow must act to protect our public lands by voting
her down.”

In 1993, as Attorney General, Norton had the opportunity to demonstrate a
dedication to environmental laws, yet time and again she refused to enforce
laws that differed from her personal beliefs.  As Attorney General, Norton
was 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.  In addition, in 1993, Norton failed to
enforce the Clean Air Act against the Hayden coal-fired power plant in
Colorado, despite obvious violations.  Pollution was so intense that it
measurably increased acid rain damage in the Rocky Mountain National Park.
Similarly, Norton again failed to enforce federal and even the state law she
was sworn to uphold against the Summitville Mine after a tailings pond
collapsed, sending high-acid pollution into natural streams, killing all
life in them for 30 miles.

“The people of Michigan care about clean air, clean water and our public
lands, said Brad Wilson, Program Director for Clean Water Action.  “The
selection of a special interest lawyer to head the Department of Interior
who refuses to enforce the law is a bad omen of policies President-elect
Bush may impose on the Great Lakes.  We call on Senators Levin and Stabenow
to stand up for Michigan and our public lands and reject the nomination of
Gale Norton to Department of the Interior.”

Participants:  Alison Horton, Director of the Sierra Club Mackinac Chapter;
Lana Pollack, President of Michigan Environmental Council; Elliot Levinsohn,
American Lung Association of Michigan, Brad Wilson, Clean Water Action;
Brian Imus, PIRGIM; Jeff Irwin, League of Conservation Voters Education

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