Libertarian Belle

Gale Norton Rings in an America Where Polluters Police Themselves and Environmentalists Go Extinct

Environmentalists expect Norton to take actions that don't require congressional approval—such as pulling the Interior Department away from efforts to break up the sweetheart deals between federal agencies and the energy companies who profit from national land. They think she'll deep-freeze the push by department scientists to study endangered species and work to bury the Surface Mining Act, giving a green light to strip miners. And don't be surprised, they say, if she grandfathers mining and drilling rights in the 11 new national monuments President Clinton created during his final hours in office.

Bush may be charming, and Norton may seem like a breath of fresh air, but environmentalists like Friends of the Earth's Brent Blackwelder think the nation faces a disaster in the making. "The nomination of Gale Norton," he says, "amounts to a declaration of war on the environment."

illustration by Roberto Parada

Additional reporting: Rouven Gueissaz and Adam Gray

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