Bush Picks Kempthorne to Succeed Gail Norton at Interior

Quick on the heels of Gail Norton’s resignation, President Bush last week announced that conservative Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne would take over as head of the Interior Department. Bush praised the outgoing Norton as “a strong advocate for the wise use and protection of our nation’s natural resources.”

Dirk Kempthorne

To environmentalists happy to wave goodbye to Norton, who led the administration’s push to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling and encouraged resource extraction on public lands across the American West, Kempthorne is cold comfort. “As governor, Kempthorne led the charge to strip protection from 60 million acres of America’s last wild forests and he’s consistently fought against protection for wildlife like grizzly bears and salmon in his home state of Idaho,” said Todd True of the nonprofit Earthjustice.

Bush told reporters that Kempthorne shares his enthusiasm for local control and private property rights, and as such is the right person for the job of overseeing one out of every five acres of land in the U.S. “Dirk understands that those who live closest to the land know how to manage it best,” said Bush, “and he will work closely with state and local leaders to ensure wise stewardship of our resources.”

Pundits expect Kempthorne, a former one-term Senator who returned to his home state to become governor, will sail through confirmation hearings on the appointment slated for next week.

Source: www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11862956