Interior Secretary urges more energy extraction on public lands

According to Interior Secretary Gale Norton, the current vicious hurricane season has taught the Bush administration a lesson, namely: Keep doing the same stuff. She says that Katrina and Rita show the folly of concentrating the nation’s fossil-fuel infrastructure in one geographic area, and that the solution is reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. No, we kid! The solution, she told The New York Times, is to continue pushing to open more public lands — like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and coastal waters — to energy development. She also expressed support for opening public lands, including national parks, to other activities endorsed by private interests, from cell-phone tower construction to increased snowmobiling. And while she did not explicitly endorse the latest House bill that would weaken the Endangered Species Act, Norton talked up its two principal provisions and spoke of what she considers flaws in the ESA.