Friday, February 13, 2009

Green Enough?

Newsweek reports:

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar wasn't an instant hit with environmentalists, who said the former Colorado attorney general was soft on the Endangered Species Act, climate change and other important issues. Could some of his first moves soften the opposition? Last week Salazar halted Bush administration leases of federal lands to energy developers and promised a critical review of outstanding leases. And he denounced ethics scandals that broke last fall, including the revelation that some department employees had exchanged drugs and sexual favors with employees of several energy companies that lease public lands. In an interview with NEWSWEEK's Daniel Stone and Daren Briscoe, Salazar suggested critics get to know his record better, and he promised to put science first. Excerpts: NEWSWEEK: A broad collection of wildlife advocacy groups opposed your nomination, saying your record doesn't show a strong-enough stance on species protection. Salazar: I'm not here to please the environmental groups or the oil and gas industries. I'm here to do the right thing. The fact that there's criticism from the left and the right is something I'm very used to. Those environmental groups should educate themselves on the work I have done. In Colorado, I created the most significant state land conservation program in the history of the United States that restored and protected river corridors, which is basically protecting species. I've been involved in crafting programs to recover endangered fish in the Colorado River system. I was one of the architects in crafting an agreement to recover the whooping crane in Nebraska. I have a history of having stood up to recover species in a way that's real. You say you will value science more than your predecessors. What does that mean? There are a number of pods within the department where there are scientists who do their work without a political agenda. Their work has to be honored. It starts with the Fish and Wildlife Service on the endangered-species consultation process. They're the ones that ought to be making the call in terms of what kind of impact will be created as a result of whatever action will be taken. Secondly, we have the U.S. Geological Survey, coupled with the Bureau of Reclamation. They will be hugely helpful for us as we figure out in a real way how we'll address the reality of climate change. We have, in this department, a very strong group of scientists that have been working on these issues and collecting data for a very long time...

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