Washington, DC — A large, influential and growing coalition of conservation organizations is building behind naming Congressman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) as the next Secretary of the Interior, according to a support letter from more than 100 groups sent to President-elect Obama and released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Rep. Grijalva now chairs the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands which has jurisdiction over Interior Department matters.
The 106 groups, based in states ranging from New York and Virginia to Colorado and California, who signed this latest letter represents some of the fast-developing support for Grijalva spanning wildlife, land protection and good government groups, as well as among congressional colleagues, notably Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) who chairs the Natural Resources Committee. Scientists, tribes and Latino organizations are also backing Grijalva.
Among the pluses highlighted in the new conservation support letter is that Rep. Grijalva has a depth and breadth of experience in complex natural resource issues at federal, state, tribal and county levels. In particular, the letter cites his –
- Assembling what is regarded as one of the most “far sighted endangered species protection plans in the nation” that minimized the need for litigation that has plagued Interior;
- Expertise in drought management, a growing condition in the parched West; and
- Leadership in “pressing Interior and other federal agencies to integrate global warming issues into their planning and permitting.”
“Representative Grijalva is widely respected, with excellent state and local relations, and a proven record of fairness, ethics and conservation,” stated Southwest PEER Director Daniel Patterson, who is a newly elected Arizona State Representative who formerly worked with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which controls the most acreage of any Interior agency. “Congressman Grijalva understands wildlife and outdoors issues, as well as energy, water, tribes and natural resources management.”
The next Interior Secretary will take over an agency badly shaken by ethics scandals which saw, among other things, the imprisonment of its top deputy, losses of tens of billions of dollars from under-collection of oil royalties and, most recently, revelation of sex and drug parties involving key Interior employees and oil company executives.
“Interior desperately need new leadership to restore ethics, science and responsibility, and Rep. Grijalva has shown that he knows what needs to done,” Patterson added, pointing to a recent report compiled by Rep. Grijalva outlining problems plaguing Interior operations. “Throughout his career, Raúl Grijalva has demonstrated that he is a deft problem solver.”
Letter signatories include Oregon Wild, Grand Canyon Trust, Californians for Western Wilderness, The Fund for Horses, Center for Sierra Nevada Conservation, Maricopa Audubon Society, Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice, and Conservation Voters of New Mexico.