Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar pauses during a Senate Committee hearing in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Andrew Restuccia reporting for Politico writes:
“President Barack Obama won four more years in Washington Tuesday, but his energy team likely won’t be sticking around for that long, setting up some bruising confirmation fights in the Senate.
“Democrats close to the Obama administration say Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar could all step down during Obama’s second term, though the timing is far from certain.
“Of course, Democrats caution that nothing is set in stone and the politics of the second term, as well as the possibility of a lengthy confirmation battle over their replacements, could dictate who stays and who goes.” Read more >>
While this may music to the ears of wild horse and burro advocates regarding Salazar, it would be hasty to assume this would resolve all of the threats to the survival of America’s wild equines on public lands as it is not clear who Obama intends to nominate to take Salazar’s place if Salazar indeed leaves. It is not a given.
Another challenge, as cited in the Restuccia article, is the confirmation hearing which promises to be grueling and rash with political maneuvering.
With that said, the candidate that springs to mind among wild horse and burro advocates naturally for Interior Secretary is of course Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-7-AZ). They will be happy to know that his name is already beginning to take on some buzz inside the Beltway, but there may be other candidates up the President’s sleeve.
Who is Raúl Grijalva?
Rep Raul Grijalva at the podium. Google image.
Congressman Raúl Grijalva has a winning resume for Interior Secretary, and the obvious choice in 2008 of many in Washington, and expectantly will be again this time around.
Rep. Grijalva began his public career as a community organizer and has worked his way up through the ranks, and that type of background appeals strongly to President Obama.
Elected to Congress in 2002, Rep. Grijalva earned early credit for his role in creating the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan, which brought together business interests, landowners and environmentalists reports the New York Times. More recently, he challenged British Petroleum months before the accident in the Gulf of Mexico.
Rep. Grijalva serves on the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources and appointed Chairman of its National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee. However, as a Democrat in a Republican House, he is currently its Ranking Member. The Subcommittee oversees 600 million acres of federal land. Also important, Congressman Grijalva serves on the Subcommittee on Water and Power.
In October 2008, Grijalva “published a 23-page report (‘a partial list’, he deemed it), outlining the Bush administration’s assaults on our national parks, forests and public lands.”
“That document wasn’t a mere Bush-bashing exercise,” reports Billie Stanton writing for the Tuscon Citizen, “it was a blueprint for how to remedy the havoc wrought and how to bring transparency, honesty, ethics and professionalism to the hideously corrupted Department of the Interior.”
Rep. Grijalva is also a member of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition and supporter of the Green Scissors plan (pdf) to cut $200 billion in government subsidies to industries such as coal, oil, gas and timber.
His voting on energy policy (see links in Related Reading below) lines up with much of Obama’s thinking, in particular renewable energy. This is key.
Conservation has always been high on the list of Rep. Grijalva’s priorities in Washington. His record clearly reflects this, and he is popular among a long list of advocates, including those of conservationists and wild horse and burro protectionists.
The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) Action Fund give Rep. Grijalva an inspiring LCV lifetime environmental score of 95% and a perfect 100% on LCV’s National Environmental Scorecard for his voting record in 2011.
This means that Rep. Grijalva clearly understands the link between the nurturing of America’s public lands through the sustaining environmental impact of free-roaming wild horses and burros (that will also by the way benefit the cattle and other wildlife foraging there).
Although energy will be the focus in selecting the next Interior Secretary, the Bureau of Land Management fall under the jurisdiction of the DOI, and the wild horses and burros fall under the oversight of the BLM.
Rep. Grijalva has shown himself to be an influential friend to the lands and wild equines who live on them, particularly in moments of crisis and addressed the Department of Interior on their behalf.
While Rep. Grijalva is a highly commendable candidate to replace Secretary Salazar, he may not be a popular choice of the gas, oil and mining industries, reckoned to be the most powerful lobby in Washington. Billie Stanton, writing for the Tuscon Citizen in 2008 in an article entitled, “Why did Obama forsake Grijalva?” suggests “He was too ‘green’ for gas, oil and mining interests” who “would do everything in their power to block Grijalva” according to a savvy political observer in southern Arizona.
Wild Horses needlessly rounded up by federal government agency, Bureau of Land Management. Google image.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
While we must be vigilant for these sorts of changes, more importantly and urgently, we must stay focused on the treatment of our wild horses and burros under the current regime, and continue to work hard for their protection and survival.
Wild Horses and Burros
– Congressman criticizes Nevada wild horse roundup; Tuesday’s Horse; Jun. 11, 2012
– Letter (pdf) to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar on the need for more humane horse management policies (signed by more than 60 Members of Congress); Jul. 28, 2011
– Congressional wild horse champion rides to the rescue; Tuesday’s Horse; Jul. 8, 2011
– Grijalva to host DC premiere of Kleinert’s Wild Horses & Renegades; Tuesday’s Horse; Jun. 22, 2011
– Congressman Grijalva honors Cloud and all wild horses and burros; Tuesday’s Horse; May 5, 2011
– Congressman Grijalva Votes to Save Wild Horses and Mustangs; News Release; Congressman Raul Grijalva website; Jul. 17, 2009
– See how Grijalva voted on energy issues at VoteSmart.org >>
– See how Grijalva voted on energy and oil issues at OnTheIssues.org >>