- The Washington Times - Monday, May 14, 2001

President Bushs pick to be second in command at the Interior Department faces significant opposition from environmental groups, but the administration and public policy analysts say the protests are a fund-raising tactic that wont stall the appointment.
Mr. Bush nominated J. Steven Griles, a lawyer and Interior official under President Reagan, as deputy to Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton.
Nominated March 8, Mr. Griles will make his first appearance before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday for a confirmation hearing.
Many national environmental groups oppose the nomination because Mr. Griles has lobbied on behalf of oil, coal and utility interests.
"By selecting Mr. Griles for such a powerful land-management position, the Bush administration has signaled its intent to give industry interests priority over protection of our nations public lands," said a position paper by the Wilderness Society.
In a March 23 letter to Mr. Bush, Friends of the Earth outlined its opposition and said "environmental concerns will be quashed in an intensive effort to encourage more mining and fossil-fuel production."
But Mr. Griles is getting support from environmentalists in his home state of Virginia.
Individual members of the Nature Conservancy, Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance Board, Virginia Land Trust, Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Virginia Outdoors sent a letter Thursday to Republican Sen. Frank H. Murkowski of Alaska, chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, praising Mr. Griles record.
"Ultimately, Mr. Griles leadership resulted in the strengthening of Virginias environmental laws to protect streams and rivers from mining activities," and Mr. Griles has exhibited a "high level of corporate responsibility for the environment," the letter said.
However, supporters say Mr. Griles will be "demonized" during the confirmation process for the sole purpose of raising money.
"They need enemies in order to raise money through direct mail, and they are stirring things up" with the Griles nomination, said one Bush administration official, who asked to remain anonymous.
Environmental activists "are gearing up to oppose anyone who doesnt adopt their agenda lock-step," said Charlie Coon, policy analyst for the Heritage Foundation.
To ease the confirmation process, the Bush administration should focus the debate on Mr. Griles experience and deliberative style, said Myron Ebell, policy analyst with the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
Mr. Griles served from 1984 to 1989 as assistant secretary for lands and minerals management. He currently is a principal of National Environmental Strategies, a lobbying firm on environmental and regulatory issues, and president of J. Steven Griles and Associates.
According to lobbying registrations posted by the Center for Responsive Politics, Mr. Griles firm has represented such clients as Occidental Petroleum, the National Mining Association and Edison Electric.


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