President-elect Barack Obama’s transition, to date, appears to be going smoothly. One apparent selection for a Cabinet-level position that has not yet been confirmed, however, is that of Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., as secretary of the Interior Department.
Grijalva currently represents Arizona’s Congressional District 7 and, in part, is a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, where he serves as chairman of the National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee.
The subcommittee oversees millions of acres of federal land. Grijalva also plays a leadership role in several key congressional caucuses, including co-chairman of the Congressional National Landscape Conservation System.
Grijalva has an established record of standing up for what is important to the people of this nation — a rare thing in a political environment heretofore dominated by greed and corruption. Public lands are to be managed under a multiple-use doctrine that includes recreation, preservation, study and exploitation — not exploitation at any cost.
Under President Bush’s administration, public lands have been managed with a clear preference for mining, grazing, development and promotion of corporate interests in general. This type of myopic focus on the bottom line has not served us well on Wall Street. The secretary of Interior needs to be committed to the effective and comprehensive management of public lands.
Grijalva understands this need and stands ready to fill the currently existing void in responsible federal land management. Grijalva has stood up to the excesses of the Bush administration, and has worked to shed light on many of those excesses.
The appointment of Raúl Grijalva as secretary of the Interior presents an opportunity to bring a uniquely qualified candidate, with true grass-roots ties, and a broad-based progressive bent to the cabinet. Grijalva would make a great addition to the team.
Howard Shanker of Flagstaff is a former candidate for Arizona’s Congressional District 1 seat.