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03/18/2009

Utah Senator Will Block Nomination of Critical Interior Official

Senator Bennett from Utah announced yesterday that he is going to block the nomination of David Hayes for Interior deputy secretary.  This obstructionist move could hold up the matter and further delay the Department of the Interior from being able to fulfill its duties.  Earlier today, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted 17-5 to send the nomination to the Senate floor, despite Bennett's best attempts.  But he has stated that he will continue to hold up the confirmation.

Seems that Bennett is more than a little bitter about the Secretary of the Interior canceling 77 lease sales in Utah.  The December 19th sale was pushed through at the last minute by the Bush administration and would have opened up 100,000 acres in the vicinity of such natural treasures as Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, Dinosaur National Monument, and Nine Mile Canyon.  Bennett, however, is not pleased.  According to him there was sufficient collaboration between the BLM and the National Park Service to warrant the lease sales, sufficient enough that he thinks it is inconsistent for the Department of the Interior to now say that the process wasn't collaborative enough and cancel the leases.  And what, exactly, is Senator Bennett's definition of "sufficient collaboration?"  Apparently it's "two days of extremely productive discussions" between agency officials, according to a BLM press release.

Two days of discussion between Bush administration agency officials?  Seriously?  Before selling off cherished national icons?  Thankfully, the new administration realized what an egregious and corrupt move this was and cancelled the leases, giving time for a thorough review.  David Hayes would be a solid candidate for deputy secretary of the Interior and would add to an agency that has already indicated it is going to proceed with energy development on public lands in a reasonable and cautious manner.  The sooner he is confirmed, the sooner the agency can go about fulfilling its mission.

Read the article originally published by Greenwire here.

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