Bruce Babbitt looks like this.

Bruce Babbitt looks like this.

Since all anyone is talking about today is the secretary of the interior, let’s check in on Bruce Babbitt, who served in that position under President Clinton. What does he think about the state of the world, etc.? Any thoughts on the use of public land for oil exploration versus conserving it for the future, and perhaps any suggestions on how those uses should be balanced, ratio-wise?

From online internet website

Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt pressed President Barack Obama on Tuesday to set aside an acre of public land for conservation for every acre that is leased for oil and gas development. …

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Over the past four years, he said, industry has leased more than 6 million acres compared with the 2.6 million acres that have been permanently protected. “In the Obama era, land conservation is again falling behind,” he said. “This lopsided public-land administration in favor of the oil and gas industry shouldn’t continue.”

Alright. Sounds like a plan. A brand new plan, for Obama to look at.

Babbitt made a similar plea to Obama when he spoke at the press club in June 2011 on the 105th anniversary of the [Antiquities Act]. During that speech, he mocked “munchkins” at the White House for backing down from what he dubbed an assault from Republicans over the issue.

Oh. Not new. But at least he dropped the weird Wizard of Oz analogy this time.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Still, the issue does have its wicked witches.

Babbitt centered his verbal venom on an oil and gas industry that “will be insulted by the suggestion that the public’s use of public land should be on equal ground with their profits” and “right-wing Republicans in the House [who] will take up Big Oil’s cause and will again call for a fire sale of public lands for corporate use.”

Republicans have been doing this for decades, he said, and Obama should not try to strike deals with them.

Politico then quoted a Republican member of Congress responding exactly as you would expect.

And now you’re up to speed on Mr. Bruce Babbitt, munchkin-hater. We’ll update you again in 2019.

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free.