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Norton's Confirmation Expected, Though ContentiousAired January 18, 2001 - 2:38 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: The Norton hearing is not the only one taking place on Capitol Hill today -- it's busy up there.
For more on all that, CNN's Jeanne Meserve joins us from our Washington bureau -- Jeanne.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, a whole host of hearings going on today; a couple of them have concluded.
Spencer Abraham was before the Energy and Natural Resources Committee a short time ago; that's now done. That same committee will now be looking at Gale Norton. Also, Ann Veneman was up to be agriculture commissioner; that hearing now over. Tommy Thompson's hearing still going on. John Ashcroft going on again this afternoon.
But let's talk for a little bit about Gale Norton. As Natalie mentioned, she was attorney general of Colorado for eight years, left a very controversial record behind her. Argued against federal environmental protections in many cases and even challenged the constitutionality of some environmental laws, the Endangered Species Act. So now she will go before the U.S. Congress.
Bob Franken is up on the Hill.
Bob, Gale Norton does have her supporters; tell us who they are.
BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're Westerners, for the most part. She represents the Western mentality, as we just heard in that report.
She was one of those who worked for the Rocky Mountain Foundation, which was funded by the Coors family; a very conservative group. She was a protege, as we've heard before, of James Watt, the highly controversial interior secretary during the Reagan administration until he was forced out.
She is somebody who believes that, in fact, the federal government has really taken too much power when it comes to the environment. She's a strong advocate of state power in the environmental matters; she's also a strong advocate of factoring in what effects environmental laws have on business.
Now, both of those positions are poison to the traditional environmental community. The various groups like The Sierra Club, groups like that -- Friends of the Earth, in fact are very, very upset about the fact that she has been appointed. They believe that she is anti-environment and will do great damage as she is the secretary of the interior.
The Interior Department is the steward of the U.S. lands, and they are very concerned that her policies will open the gates to policies that will do damage to the environment which will, of course, make them, they say, suffer setbacks that they were only able to achieve during the Clinton administration.
This is a very contentious debate; it's every bit as contentious within the environmental community, as the Ashcroft matter has been; although Ashcroft, of course, has gotten most of the attention.
MESERVE: So, Bob, is there any doubt she's going to be confirmed?
FRANKEN: Little doubt so far. This is not quite the same level of argument as John Ashcroft.
I just outlined every argument that the environmentalists will make, although they'll talk specifically about various proposals. But the argument that the other side will make is that President-elect Bush has the right to put in somebody with whom he shares an ideology. There are no personal matters; it is not as fundamental as some of the arguments against Ashcroft.
So the short answer to your question is: Count her as confirmed.
MESERVE: OK; Bob Franken, thanks.
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