National environmental leaders held a press conference this morning in Washington, D.C., to announce their formal opposition to Gale Norton, President-elect Bush’s choice for Interior secretary. Enviros earlier this week sent a letter to all senators and urged them not to appoint her, saying that she held “extreme” views on property rights and that confirming her would represent “a momentous shift backwards” in conservation policy. The Center for Responsive Politics yesterday released data showing that one-third of the money Norton raised for an unsuccessful run for Senate in 1996 came from extractive industries that deal extensively with the Interior Department. Alaska Democrats, meanwhile, are questioning whether Norton should have billed the state of Alaska $60,000 last year for help she provided to the conservative Mountain States Legal Foundation. In other confirmation news, 11 of 20 members of New Jersey’s Legislative Black and Latino Caucus yesterday criticized Bush’s choice for U.S. EPA administrator, New Jersey Gov. Christine Whitman (R), saying she had a poor record on racial and environmental issues.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.