House Natural Resources Committee Taps Disgraced Bush Official and Industry Lobbyist to Testify on Lands Policy

Newly-empowered House Republicans are once again pushing for Bush-era runaway energy development on the West’s public lands under the guise of “vigorous oversight” of the Obama administration’s public lands policy.

The House Natural Resources Committee will today hold a hearing into a long-overdue December decision by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to finally exorcise one of the most damaging legacies of disgraced former Bush Interior Secretary-turned-Big Oil executive Gale Norton. Republicans, including Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), have been apoplectic about Salazar’s decision to return to Reagan-era wild lands policies. Continuing a trend of letting industry lobbyists set their agenda, the Republicans on the Natural Resources Committee have called lobbyist William G. Myers III to testify today.

Myers has been a registered lobbyist for several energy and mining concerns, as well as other anti-regulatory groups like the Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Public Lands Council, and the National Association of Manufacturers. Myers, however, is perhaps best known for being a failed George W. Bush judicial nominee and the subject of an Inspector General’s rebuke for his Bush-era service as the Interior Department’s solicitor.

At the time of his nomination for a seat on the Ninth Circuit Court Appeals — a circuit that hears many important environmental cases — Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called his radical anti-environmental views “off the deep end.” While Myers had no experience as a judge or courtroom advocate, he did have one key qualification: his multi-million dollar lobbying campaign for coal producers in former Vice President Dick Cheney’s home state of Wyoming that would have allowed them to gain near-monopoly over one of the world’s largest coal supplies. (The coal merger he advocated for was subsequently overturned by the Federal Trade Commission on a 4-1 vote after an investigation.)

After a bipartisan group of Senators blocked Myers’ nomination, he became the first judicial nominee in history to withdraw because of his anti-environmental views. In addition to his stridently anti-environmental views, Myers was also known to have strongly anti-gay, anti-choice, and even anti-birth control views.

Tapping Myers to testify is yet another sign that House Republicans will stop at nothing short of a full return to the misguided and destructive lands and energy development policies of the Bush administration — policies that would benefit a few special interests and their lobbyists at the expense of local communities throughout the West.

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