Samuel Hayim Brody
The Other Rally, p. 2

If you only looked at her site on the Department of the Interior webpage (, you might not see what's so wrong. Just another government official with amorphous plans to do something about something, right? And there's a nice picture of her with the ocean in the background. But click on over to the National Resources Defense Council's website discussing the Bush Administration's record on the environment (, and you'll encounter the claim that "Gale Norton . . . has devoted her career to undermining the mission of the agency she has been nominated to lead." Let's see what they mean by that:
  • Gale Norton is a former lobbyist for "property rights" groups in the West whose stated mission is to fight, evade, and ultimately undo environmental regulations, and to open up as much public land as possible to private exploitation. Now she's supposedly in charge of enforcing many of those rules and protecting that land.
  • In 1980, Norton was a delegate to the national Libertarian Party convention for presidential candidate Ed Clark. The Libertarian Party platform at the time stated: "We also favor the abolition of the Bureau of Land Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers." We call for the immediate abolition of the Bureau of Land Management and the transfer to private ownership of federally held so-called public lands." You may say "Come now, that was twenty years ago," but Norton is even today on the Board of Trustees of the Libertarian Independence Institute, of which she was formerly a senior fellow. So Norton is ideologically opposed to the agency she now heads.
  • According to the Denver Post (1/7/01), Norton refused to fight corporate polluters while serving as Attorney General of Colorado. Her inaction meant that citizens' groups had to take up the fight themselves, often with the state actively working against them. In one case, the Sierra Club won a case against a Public Service Co. power plant, which a judge ruled had violated the Clean Air Act 19,000 times. This was a case Norton refused to prosecute. Other such instances abound. Seriously, they abound. The Louisiana-Pacific mill with its midnight burns and subsequent coverups. The Conoco refinery spilling oil into Sand Creek. The Summitville gold mine that poisoned 17 miles of a river with cyanide. All cases Norton refused to take, that citizens had to fight for themselves without her help.
  • Norton supports allowing corporate polluters to regulate themselves, and to do so without penalty for violations. She supported a bill in Colorado that made it harder for the state government to gain access to evidence of corporate wrongdoing, and gave violators immunity, in an effort to encourage "self-policing" by corporations. Ignoring the fact that this is on its face a ludicrous policy, actual studies have been done proving it to be a really ludicrous policy. The National Conference of State Legislatures concluded in 1998 that "self-regulation" leads to, well, non-regulation.
  • The Secretary of the Interior is partly responsible (with the EPA) for enforcing the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, and the National Environmental Protection Act. Gale Norton has stated over the years that these laws are "unconstitutional" and "overburdensome," and has at one point or another challenged or refused to enforce all of them.
  • Gale Norton was national chair of the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, a group which has been derided as the "classic green scam" by Republicans who actually have decent environmental records.

I could go on for some time. The information out there is overwhelming. (For more on the Bush/Norton environmental record, see Zeek, August 2002; for an excellent summmary of Gale Norton's own particular evil, see Jeff Woods, Norton vs. the Environment, Defenders of Wildlife Magazine. ). But at some point you have to stop reading and do something. So I decided to head over to Nicholas' house to meet the rest of the group that would be going up to Monticello. I knew most of them already, folks I knew from college, and protests of other things, but there were also a couple of older Charlottesville residents and a former Monticello employee who had been interested in the idea of using his lottery-won tickets to the Lewis and Clark bicentennial for something other than a celebration of imperialism.

We sat around in the living room for a while, using the consensus process (as activists are wont to do, or at least try to do, these days) to try and work out answers to some questions: What was our message to be at this event? What form would our action take? Who was the target? Some members of our group, seeing Norton as a representative of the Bush administration, and recognizing that the Lewis and Clark bicentennial would coincide with the huge protests in D.C. and San Francisco and the smaller one scheduled to take place in downtown Charlottesville, wanted to have a mainly antiwar message. A sort of "Let's remind all those Lewis and Clark lovers that there's a war about to start and they should stop celebrating racist imperialist evil" riff. Others thought we should single out Norton for her own evils, and maybe throw the anti-war bit in at the end somehow. Others thought mixed messages were bad and that while we loony left-wing activists might see the ultimate connections that can be drawn between Norton and Iraq, such connections would be impossible to make and express convincingly on a banner. And would decrying Lewis and Clark and Manifest Destiny as the ancestor of our administration's Iraq policy really be the right message to send? Would that win anyone over? Did we want to win anyone over?

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Image: Gale Norton, Secretary of the Interior

February 2003

Michael Shurkin

the other rally
Sam Brody

what the world is &
what to do about it
Jay Michaelson

Ron Mohring

Abraham Mezrich

what is charlie kaufman doing?
Dan Friedman

josh visits the
holocaust museum

Josh Ring

David Stromberg

about zeek