US Senate confirms Norton, Whitman

The US Senate Tuesday confirmed former Colorado Atty. Gen. Gale Norton to be Interior Secretary and New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman to be Environmental Protection Agency administrator. The Senate voted 75-24 to approve Norton and 99-0 to clear Whitman's nomination.


WASHINGTON, DC�The US Senate Tuesday confirmed former Colorado Atty. Gen. Gale Norton to be Interior Secretary and New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman to be Environmental Protection Agency administrator.

The Senate voted 75-24 to approve Norton. She will be the first woman to serve as Interior Secretary.

A coalition of environmental groups opposed Norton's nomination, arguing that her pro-development philosophy would lead to less protection for public lands. As head of the Interior Department, she will oversee the Bureau of Land Management, which issues oil and gas leases for public lands, and the Minerals Management Service, which collects onshore and offshore federal royalties.

Norton pledged to senators during her confirmation hearing that she would enforce all existing laws protecting public lands.

But she also supports Pres. George W. Bush's desire to open the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern Alaska for exploration.

The Senate confirmed Whitman 99-0. She planned to resign as New Jersey governor on Wednesday.

Some environmental groups criticized Whitman for reducing New Jersey's environmental budget and lowering fines for polluters.

During her confirmation hearing, Whitman promised to enforce existing EPA regulations. But she also pledged to review some recent EPA rules, such as one issued last December reducing the sulfur content of diesel fuel.

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