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Indian Country: Norton's nomination may spell trouble
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Source: Indianz

Norton's nomination may spell trouble

DECEMBER 29, 2000

Her defense of property-rights and ties to property-rights groups, though, may place her at odds with Indian Country. Property-rights proponents are typically at odds with the federal government over environmental policy, particularly in the West, where tribal holdings are vast and tribal interest in ceded and non-ceded lands, as well as fishing and hunting rights, often places tribes in the middle of the debate.

Along with fellow Republicans, Norton formed the Coalition of Republican Environmental Activists (CREA) in 1998, aimed at improving the anti-green image of the GOP. "We support market-oriented, property rights-based, locally controlled solutions," said Norton at the time, the group's first chair.

The group received the backing of conservatives like Trent Lott, Newt Gingrich, and outgoing GOP chairman Jim Nicholson. But it was criticized by moderate Republicans because many of its members had poor environmental scorecards with groups such as the League of Conservation Voters. One member, Representative Helen Chenoweth of Idaho, once questioned why endangered salmon had to be protected because it could be bought at supermarkets.

Similarly, her connections with James Watt, former Secretary of Interior under President Ronald Reagan, and Anne Gorsuch, Reagan's first Environmental Protection Agency administrator, has raised red flags for environmental organizations like the Environmental Working Group and The Center for Public Integrity. All three were staff members of the Mountain States Legal Foundation, a Colorado-based property-rights organization, and Norton followed Watt into the Interior in the 1980s.

Under Watt and Gorsuch, national environmental policy was said to unravel at incredible pace. Gorsuch is often credited with effectively ending all hazardous waste litigation by splitting EPA enforcement into regional and subject areas. Both eventually resigned amid controversy.

During her own tenure as Attorney General, Norton often defended controversial issues. She took Colorado's attempt to prevent the enactment of laws protecting gay and lesbian residents all the way to the Supreme Court, but it was struck down as un-Constitutional in 1996. Two years later, she and eight other AGs filed a brief in Hawaii Supreme Court, opposing same-sex marriages.

She also defended the state's regulation of ballot initiatives, but in 1999 the Supreme Court said they went too far in limiting free speech. She also opposed most forms of race-based college scholarships, authoring a legal opinion declaring them un-Constitutional.

Her stances, however, on issues like consumer protection and for forcing the government to clean up the Rocky Mountain Arsenal and the Rocky Flats have brought her acclaim. Her fellow law enforcers named her chair of the Environment Committee of the National Association of Attorneys General.

Age: 46, Married
Education: J.D., B.A., University of Denver
First female Colorado Attorney General: 1990-1999
Former assistant Solicitor for Department of Interior, overseeing legal staff of the National Park Service and US Fish and Wildlife under President Ronald Reagan, 1985-1987.
Former assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture under President Ronald Reagan, 1984-1985.
Appointed by President George Bush to serve on Western Water Policy Commission
Copyright 2000 Noble Savage Media, LLC / Indianz.Com

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Michael R. Meuser
Data Research & GIS Specialist is an independent firm specializing in GIS project development and data research. We created the first U.S. based interactive toxic chemical facility maps on the internet in 1996 and we have been online ever since. Learn more about us and our services.

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