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LAY OF THE LAND

Roadless reversal | Junkie Marmots | CAFE standards | Corporate excess | Bold Strokes | China leads climate change | Boise Cascade | Power Ties | Updates

Power Ties

Top resource posts in Washington are filled with industry insiders Environmentalists are suitably alarmed about George Bush's high-profile appointments: fellow former oil exec Dick Cheney at his side; one-time "wise-use" attorney Gale Norton heading the Interior Department; oilman Don Evans keeping the wheels turning at Commerce; former Enron advisor Lawrence B. Lindsey as chief economic advisor; and Spencer Abraham, top recipient of polluter contributions while a Michigan senator, as Energy secretary. Even sometimes-greenish EPA chief Christie Whitman has delayed implementing a federal water cleanup plan.

But Bush has also made disturbing appointments to powerful subcabinet posts. Witness the following: Deputy Interior secretary J. Steven Griles honed his skills as a lobbyist for the National Mining Association and Occidental Petroleum. As assistant secretary for Lands and Minerals Management under Reagan, Griles advocated drilling off California's coast.

Lynn Scarlett, assistant Interior secretary for policy, management, and budget, was president of the libertarian Reason Public Policy Institute, which downplays the risks of global warming and opposes tighter standards for particulate air pollution.

Former Alaska state senator Drue Pearce, Gale Norton's senior advisor for Alaskan affairs, has promoted oil development as consultant to the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (which owns mining rights in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) and the Energy Council, an international oil lobby. Before becoming Norton's special assistant in Alaska, Camden Toohey was director of Arctic Power, a joint venture between the state of Alaska and the oil industry that lobbies for drilling in the Arctic Refuge.

As assistant EPA administrator for air and radiation, Jeffrey Holmstead will influence key aspects of the Bush energy plan. As an attorney, he represented Cinergy; American Electric Power; and the Alliance for Constructive Air Policy, an industry group that seeks to weaken the Clean Air Act.

Linda Fisher, deputy administrator at the EPA, was a lobbyist and coordinator of political contributions for pesticide manufacturer Monsanto. As a Mississippi representative, Mike Parker garnered a "zero" rating from the League of Conservation Voters three years running. Now he's in line to be assistant secretary of the Army for civil works, a post in charge of the embattled Army Corps of Engineers. Parker's nomination is backed by the barge industry, which stands to benefit from destructive projects along the Mississippi River.

The top Justice Department job enforcing environmental and natural- resource laws is slated to go to Tom Sansonetti, a Wyoming lawyer who has lobbied on behalf of fossil-fuel industries.

In June, Bush nominated Mark Rey, a former lobbyist for the timber industry, as undersecretary of agriculture, a post that oversees the Forest Service. As a Republican aide to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Rey helped craft the 1995 "salvage rider" that cleared the way for logging old-growth forests.

John Graham, head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget, is the White House's "regulatory czar." As a member of the EPA's Science Advisory Board subcommittee on dioxin, Graham tried to insert weakening language into an EPA risk assessment.

Bush has tapped Utah's natural-resources director, Kathleen Clarke, to head the Bureau of Land Management. In Utah, she sided with energy companies to allow drilling in areas that are winter ranges for elk and made it easier for the firms to petition to remove species from state protective listings. But the industry-friendly wall can be breached: In September, Donald Schregardus, Bush's nominee for top enforcement officer at the EPA, withdrew after conservation groups and senators criticized him for lax enforcement of environmental laws while heading Ohio's EPA. --Reed McManus

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