Muckraker: Grist on Politics

A group of conservation scientists is pushing for Barack Obama to select Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) as secretary of the interior. The 58 scientists — who work for a variety of academic and conservation institutions — delivered a letter [PDF] advocating for Grijalva to Obama’s transition staff on Monday.

“The position of Secretary of the Interior is critically important to ameliorating the eight years of environmental damage done by the Bush administration and we believe that Congressman Grijalva’s background and record show him to be a leader ready for this challenge,” they write, citing his as evidence his experience on the House Natural Resources Committee, chairmanship of the Subcommittee on National Parks, work with Native American communities, and leadership in conservation of the Sonoran Desert.

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“The challenges facing the next Secretary of the Interior require a broad thinker who understands how to protect and steward natural resources and lands in a changing climate under the pressure for increased energy production,” they write. “Congressman Grijalva has shown that he grasps the tradeoffs involved in such decisions.”

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The scientists acknowledge that there is pressure to appoint a “sportsman” to the post, but argue that “it is far more important today to have a Secretary who understands ecosystem science and who is committed to science-based decision-making.”

The two lead signatories on the letter are Dr. Travis Longcore, a research associate professor of geography at the University of Southern California, and Catherine Rich, executive officer of the Urban Wildlands Group, which is based in Los Angeles. See the document [PDF] for a complete list of signers.