Dossier

A publication providing succinct biographical sketches of environmental scientists, economists, "experts," and activists released by The National Center for Public Policy Research.




Bruce Babbitt

 

Bruce Babbitt, President Clinton's Secretary of the Interior, is a former attorney general and former governor of the State of Arizona. Babbitt became governor after one Governor resigned and his replacement died, leaving Babbitt the next in line for the post. In 1988, Babbitt ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination, failing to ever register in the double digits in public opinion polls. But the contacts Babbitt made while on the campaign trail reportedly helped him land his next job -- as President of the League of Conservation Voters.

The League of Conservation Voters was founded in 1970 by Friends of the Earth. Each year, it publishes a National Environmental Scorecard, rating Members of Congress on their votes on environmental issues -- or, to be more precise, on their support for more and more regulation. In 1994, the League's PAC provided $777,717 in donations to congressional candidates, 95% of whom were democrats. The League's Scorecard and PAC contributions appear to be a powerful combination: Members of Congress receiving donations from the League of Conservation Voters' PAC in 1994 voted for the League's agenda -- as measured by the Scorecard -- an average of 89% of the time. Babbitt's tenure as the League's president may be most remembered for a rather intemperate remark he included in the introduction to the League's 1991 Scorecard: "We must identify our enemies and drive them into oblivion."

As Secretary of Interior, Bruce Babbitt has been one of the Clinton Administration's most unpopular cabinet secretaries -- particularly in the West. Upon taking office he moved quickly to attempt to raise grazing and mining fees on already economically-distressed ranching and mining industries and created over congressional objections the National Biological Service, a agency created to assess the nation's biological resources that too often has -- as congressional opponents feared -- been used to violate landowners' privacy and property rights. Babbitt also assembled a team at Interior openly hostile to the resource-dependent communities of the West. For example, George Frampton, Babbitt's choice for Assistant Secretary of Interior for Fish, Wildlife and Parks was a former president of the Wilderness Society. Speaking before an Earth Day Press Conference in 1992, Frampton said, "...A group of industries, principally mining, logging and... ranching... for decades have enjoyed enormous federal subsidies to develop and exploit the public lands... We're going to help the environment... And they're fighting back. If you had a license to loot the federal treasury, you'd be fighting to keep it too." One of Secretary Babbitt's most controversial moves, however, was his apparent assault on the Boy Scouts of America. Shortly after joining the Clinton Administration, Secretary Babbitt reinstated a National Park Service order prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the Service's Western Region. Under the order, the Boy Scouts of America -- which does not permit avowed homosexuals to serve as troop leaders -- could have been barred from volunteering in the National Parks. Subsequent public outrage over the Secretary's decision ensured that the Boy Scouts would not be barred from National Parks.


Selected Babbitt Quotes

Babbitt on tolerance...

"We must identify our enemies and drive them into oblivion."
-Bruce Babbitt in his introduction to the League of Conservation Voters' 1991 Environmental Scorecard

Babbitt dances with wolves...

"And it was a young Hopi friend who taught me that the blue mountain was, truly, a sacred place. One Sunday morning in June he led me out to the mesa top villages where I watched as the Kachina filed into the plaza, arriving from the snowy heights of the mountain, bringing blessings from another world. Another time he took me to the ceremonials where the priests of the snake clan chanted for rain and then released live rattlesnakes to carry their prayers to the spirits deep within the earth... I came to believe, deeply and irrevocably, that the land, and that blue mountain, and all the plants and animals in the natural world are together a direct reflection of divinity..."
-Bruce Babbitt, "Between the Flood and the Rainbow: Our Covenant to Protect the Whole of Creation," December 16, 1995

Babbitt on the authority of the Scriptures...

"In Genesis, Noah was commanded to take into the ark two by two and seven by seven every living thing in creation... And when the waters receded, and the dove flew off to dry land, God set all the creatures free, commanding them to multiply upon the earth. Then, in the words of the covenant with Noah, 'when the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between me and all living things on earth... Compelled by this ancient command, modern America... forged our collective moral imperative into one landmark law: The 1973 Endangered Species Act."
-Bruce Babbitt, "Between the Flood and the Rainbow: Our Covenant to Protect the Whole of Creation," December 16, 1995

Babbitt on why the Scriptures have no authority...

"I went to Notre Dame where I learned the difference between canon law and civil law. And I'm a Catholic, but I believe that it is an ethical issue in which there are differences that must be left for individuals."
-Bruce Babbitt on the campaign trail in 1988 to a reporter when asked about his position on abortion

Babbitt's views on the Constitution, possibly explaining his views on Fifth Amendment protections...

"[Judicial restraint is] a miserly and constricted assessment of the highest law of the land. You can't read the Constitution like a rule book."
-Bruce Babbitt quoted by the Arizona Republic, July 8, 1987


Version Date: February 1996

 



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