Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar is the Colorado Democrat tapped by President Obama to manage the federal department that controls more land than many countries can claim within their borders. He's known for not infrequently wearing a cowboy hat and boots.
Viewed from the perspective of the effect of his decisions on the nation's economic power, Salazar may well be the most damaging Interior Secretary ever to occupy the position. His most recent major decision - to create ex bureaucratic nihilo - a whole new category of public lands is drawing outraged protests from a growing number of senators and representatives.
“Why would anyone who wears a cowboy hat and boots in public work in private to hurt ranchers, outdoorsman and other western industries that depend upon access to our public lands. It makes no sense,” wonders Rep. Rob Bishop, the Utah Republican who is the outgoing chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus.
Bishop also said he is concerned about "Salazar’s and the current administration’s ongoing efforts to circumvent Congress when it comes to creating new public lands policies. The DOI’s unilateral decisions regarding the management of our public lands and resources are detrimental to communities and businesses throughout the West.
"Their lack of regard for the impact this will have on local economies is unacceptable. It is time that they start taking into consideration the people that will be hurt by their decisions to operate in a vacuum, starting with the withdrawal of Secretarial Order 3310,” said Bishop.
So it's no surprise that Bishop and 46 other representatives, plus eight senators, have written a blunt letter to Salazar that among much else points out:
"We believe this order represents a considerable departure from the method for designating lands as 'Wilderness Areas' specified in the Wilderness Act of 1964. "As you know, the Wilderness Act gives the U.S. Congress -- and only the U.S. Congress -- the power to designate public lands as protected 'Wilderness Areas.' Secretarial Order 3310 appears to be an underhanded attempt by DOI to circumvent Congress and the federal rulemaking process…"
Go here for the full text of the letter.