Business and property-rights groups are pressuring the White House to name a replacement who will act as vigorously on their behalf as Norton did. "Anything less … may generate opposition to the nomination from the president’s own supporters," says Chuck Cushman, executive director of the American Land Rights Association.
Says The Denver Post:
President Bush will abide by tradition and name a Westerner to replace Interior Secretary Gale Norton, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card said.
And the White House will look for a successor whose views mirror those of the pro-development Norton, Card said.
(This is amusing as well:
"Gale Norton has been a strong advocate for the wise use and protection of our nation’s natural resources and a valuable member of my administration," President Bush said. "I appreciate Gale’s dedicated service to our country."
I’m guessing his use of the term "wise use" was no accident.)
Deputy Interior Secretary Lynn Scarlett is in charge of Interior in the interim. (We interview her here.)
The top name floating around as a permanent replacement is two-term Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne (R). Back in 2003, Timothy Noah wrote a piece for Slate, contemplating the possibility that Kempthorne would be picked to head EPA. Here’s a bit:
If it is Kempthorne, Bush will have made a comically anti-environmental choice. During six years in the Senate in the 1990s, Kempthorne scored a "0" on the League of Conservation Voters’ legislative scorecards every year except 1993 (PDF), when Kempthorne scored 6 percent on the basis of one little-remembered vote against funding a rocket booster for the space program that environmentalists judged harmful to the environment. Knight Ridder’s Seth Borenstein reported June 23 that in the two years after Kempthorne became governor of Idaho, the state increased toxic emissions by 2 percent — this during a period when the national average declined by 9 percent. The chief of staff for Idaho’s Department of Environmental Quality told Borenstein that environmental inspections were at "a bare-bones minimum" aimed only at staying in compliance with a state court order. Kempthorne did battle with EPA Administrator Christie Whitman over an Idaho Superfund cleanup, at one point threatening to evict EPA officials from the state.
Here’s a list of Kempthorne’s votes on various issues.
I guess this doesn’t really come as a surprise to anyone, does it?