Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne won Senate approval as Interior secretary on Friday. His confirmation heairngs highlighted the administration's pro-development policy on offshore energy exploration. Though the confirmation was never in doubt, he was challenged by two democrats.
Florida Democrat Bill Nelson stood on the Senator floor emphasizing why he opposed Kempthorne - because of the nominee’s strong support for putting oil and gas rigs off Florida.
“During my three decades of public service, that I have held fast to a promise to fight to keep big oil away from Florida’s coastlines – to keep that industry from soiling our home; and, from ruining our economy. In Florida, a clean, healthy environment is the infrastructure of our tourism-driven economy and, it is the source of sustenance for millions of residents and visitors, alike.”
Administration policy calls for opening 3.6 million acres of the central Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas drilling. The Senate confirmed the Idaho governor as the 49th interior secretary, replacing Gale Norton. Senator Mel Martinez, the Florida Republican, was one of the 85 who voted in favor.
Idaho governor and former Senator Dirk Kempthorne won senate approval Friday as the next Secretary of the Interior despite opposition from key Democrats, including Bill Nelson of Florida.
Dirk Kempthorne becomes the 49th Interior Secretary. He succeeds Gale Norton, who served from 2001 until her resignation in March. He worked to develop consensus on management of Idaho's and the West's natural resources. He helped develop an historic bipartisan agreement for returning salmon runs. And he worked with western governors and federal officials to change the approach to forest health and wildfire management. But Florida Senator Bill Nelson doesn’t believe in how Kempthorne might treat his region – by being lenient on adding oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
“And in America, where we have only three-percent of the world’s oil reserves, our addiction to black gold will not be broken by more drilling, but by mounting an aggressive effort to fully exploit greater efficiencies and alternative fuels. As a part of my promise to Florida, I have said I could not support an interior secretary who would advance this administration’s willingness to acquiesce to the oil lobby and its ever-increasing desire for greater profits beyond even the recent, record levels.”“
Administration policy calls for opening 3.6 million acres of the central Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas drilling. Nelson was one of only 8 senators who voted against Kempthorne’s nomination. Senator Mel Martinez Republican of Florida voted in favor of Kempthorne.
Tuesday, 30 May 2006 01:00