POCATELLO, IDAHO (December 11, 2012) — The BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC), a national recreation advocacy group, today criticized a recommendation that President Obama appoint Congressman Raúl Grijalva (AZ) as the new Secretary of the Department of Interior. The recommendation of Grijalva was made recently by a collection of the most radical and litigious preservationist organizations.
Brian Hawthorne, BRC’s Public Lands Policy Director said; “The appointment of Grijalva to lead the Interior Department would be a step in the wrong direction, and would only further the political divide that currently exists between some land managers and western public lands states.”
Grijalva is well known for supporting various initiatives that specifically targeted Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) recreation on federally managed lands. But motorized recreation wasn’t Grijalva’s only target. During his tenure as Chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands (2009-2011), Grijalva was well known for attacks on cattlemen, oil and natural gas development and other commercial uses of public lands. In numerous hearings and investigations, Grijalva seemed to take his lead in both substance and tone from the most litigious “environmental” groups, including the Western Watersheds Project, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and the Center for Biological Diversity.
Grijalva’s assertions didn’t always comport with the result of his investigations, however. Don Amador, BRC Western Representative, remembers when Grijalva requested a GAO (Government Accountability Office) study on OHV use on public lands. “When requesting the study, the House Resources Committee erroneously parroted the anti-OHV litany from the most radical anti-access groups. But the GAO study found those allegations to be false and validated the OHV communities involvement of, and defense of, motorized recreation on public lands,” Amador said.
Greg Mumm, BRC’s Executive Director, warned OHV enthusiasts not to fall for a “rope a dope” on a potential Grijalva nomination. “It would be a 180-degree departure from past practice for Obama to name Grijalva. Anything can happen, and we shouldn’t rule out a Grijalva nomination entirely, but this effort seems all too convenient for these sorts of groups to push so hard at this early stage.” Mumm noted that Secretary Salazar has not yet formally tendered his resignation.
Mumm said; “Considering the charges of rangelands mismanagement, as well as the job opportunities that exist on public lands, one would expect Obama to be in a fence-mending mode.” Mumm also noted many Western Governors and U.S. Representatives would react strongly if Grijalva was on a realistic short list. “I’m sure the President welcomes this sort of distraction during the increasingly urgent efforts to forge a bipartisan solution to our imminent launch off the fiscal cliff,” Mumm added.
Mumm speculated that the effort here may be more shameless fundraising and “base building” on behalf of these radical groups. “Experience leads me to suspect the administration will use the support for Grijalva to portray another candidate as ‘moderate.’ And compared to Grijalva, it is hard to believe that any selection wouldn’t qualify as more moderate,” Mumm concluded.
MORE INFO ON THE WEB:
Massive Coalition Calls on President Obama to Nominate Rep. Raúl Grijalva as Interior Secretary
GEORGE OCHENSKI: Obama’s second chance: Raul Grijalva for Secretary of the Interior