Enviros have taken offense at a 1989 speech by Gale Norton, President-elect Bush’s choice for Interior secretary, in which she suggested that property owners have a “right to pollute.” Worse, in a 1996 speech to the same audience, the Independence Institute, a conservative think tank on whose board she has served, Norton compared conservatives’ attempts to preserve states’ rights to the cause of the South in the Civil War. She said, “We lost too much” when the Confederacy was defeated. Norton did not endorse slavery, but used the example of the Civil War to draw attention to her belief that the federal government has overreached and grabbed too much governing power at the expense of states. She complained that when she was Colorado attorney general, the feds required that auto emissions be restricted in Denver and that a renovation to the statehouse include a wheelchair ramp. Norton also serves on the board of the Defenders of Property Rights, which is involved with three lawsuits filed against the Interior Department for enforcing environmental laws.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.