Environment Council of Rhode Island

...building an ecologically healthy future in a sustainable economy

Cabinet Nominees for Attorney General, Secretaries of Interior and Energy

Pub Date: 
Wednesday, January 3, 2001

Whereas the Attorney General is ultimately the supreme law enforcement agent in the federal government, and whereas environmental protection is dependent on adequate enforcement of laws that protect publicly owned lands and control interstate pollution; and

Whereas Attorney-General designee John Ashcroft has an anti-environment history, as shown by his 0% rating by the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), who report that he voted in opposition to LCV positions in all the key votes in all four years of the 105th and 106th Congress (1997-2000), including votes dealing with pollution from hard-rock mining, nuclear waste issues, wetlands and water; and

Whereas the US Department of Interior manages important public lands, including our National Parks, National Monuments and National Wildlife Refuges that are owned by all the people of the United States, including Rhode Islanders; and

Whereas Interior Secretary designee Gale Norton is associated with James Watt and anti-environmental groups that want to drastically reduce federal protection for public lands (such as the Pacific Legal Foundation) and oil industry interests whose proposed oil development risks destruction of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and whereas Gale Norton is a proponent of "self-audit" laws that in effect call for voluntary compliance with environmental laws, a strategy the US Environmental Protection Agency has strongly opposed; and

Whereas the US Department of Energy oversees many important environmental programs, including conservation, renewable energy development, the strategic petroleum reserve, nuclear power and waste issues; and

Whereas Energy Secretary designee Spencer Abraham is another Senator who received 0% LCV scores in the 106th Congress (both the 1999 and 2000 sessions) indicating a disturbing lack of sensitivity for environmental protection, who has worked to oppose improved auto efficiency standards, and who, according to the New York Times, "dislikes environmental regulations"; and

Whereas the citizens of Rhode Island have again shown their support for environmental protection by their overwhelming support for clean water and open space bonds and by repeatedly electing candidates to Congress from both parties with strong environmental credentials; and

Now therefore be it resolved that the Environment Council of Rhode Island regards the above appointments as unacceptable to the people of Rhode Island and of America, and thereby calls on Senators Jack Reed and Lincoln Chafee to actively oppose the confirmations of John Ashcroft, Gale Norton, and Spencer Abraham; and also calls on President-elect George W. Bush to replace them with nominees more supportive of environmental protection and who better reflect mainstream American values.