A source close to the Obama transition team just told me that “(Congressman Raul) Grijalva fell out of favor and they are now looking at Mike Thompson” for the job of Interior Secretary. The source also told me that the likely decision will take place in the next 36 hours and has “the DC environmental groups in a frenzy over the latest leaks out of the transition team.”
While these are only just rumors, this information should at the very least make us look more closely at how Congressman Mike Thompson’s record fits President-elect Obama’s promise to bring hope and change to the over 500 million acres of surface land and over 1.7 billion acres of the Outer Continental Shelf that fall under the purview of the Secretary of the Interior job Grijalva and Thompson are being considered for.
The measure of change and hope in the work of the Department of the Interior begins with reducing the disproportionate influence of the big hunting, big logging, big oil and other big corporate interests whose big money defined and still define the deadly and devastating land management policies of the Bush Administration.
A look at NRA member and Blue Dog Democrat Mike Thompson’s financial and voting records reveals a less-than progressive position with regard to important issues the next DOI Secretary will be dealing with.
Environmental groups are especially concerned, for example, that, among Thompson’s biggest contributors ($20,676) is Safari Club International, a global organization that whose primary mission includes lobbying for the right of trophy hunters to hunt as many species as possible, regardless of their endangered status. Earlier this year, Thompson was awarded SCI’s Federal Legislator of the Year award for his votes on several pieces of legislation, inclding a bill that allows hunters in the United States to continue importing the heads and hides of polar bears killed in Canada. The vote prompted condemnation of animal rights groups and even moved the Bush Administration to place the polar bear on the “threatened species” list under the Endangered Species Act.
Another one of Thompson’s biggest contributors (over $17,000) is Koch (pronounced “coke”) Industries, the largest privately held company in the US specializing in oil and natural resources. The logging units the mega-conglomorate Koch, which earned more than $110 billion in revenue last year, has reaped especially handsome profits from legislation that Thompson has voted in favor of including the Bush Administration’s “Healthy Forest Initiative as well as his votes opening the Tongass Forest and other public lands under DOI management to logging. All prominent California Democrats and Democrats from state’s with some of the largest public land holdings and national forests, inclduing Washington and Oregon, voted against the Healthy Forests Initiative. This bill reaped enormous profits for Koch Industries.