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St Petersburg Times (Tampa Bay): Where Norton goes, can a mess be far behind?

A Times Editorial
Published January 5, 2007
The least surprising news in recent weeks had to be the announcement that former Interior Secretary Gale Norton is going to work for Shell Oil Co. In her zeal to open the Gulf of Mexico and federal lands in the West to drilling, Norton always acted on behalf of the oil industry (as opposed to the American public, the landowner). At least now she’ll be on the industry’s payroll instead of the taxpayers’

When she resigned last year, Norton left behind a mess that is still being unravelled. The latest revelation involves an investigation by the Justice Department into royalty collections. Allegations are that a high-ranking Interior official steered the sale of federally owned oil and gas to favored companies, thereby reducing the amount the government (and taxpayers) collected on such sales, the New York Times reported.

Under Norton’s watch, the department pushed relentlessly to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and set a one-year record for the number of drilling permits it issued on public land, all while ignoring its duty to limit environmental damage. During that time, the department failed to monitor its leases, potentially costing the government billions of dollars in lost royalty payments.

Now Norton will help Royal Dutch Shell profit from recovery of unconventional sources of petroleum, including oil shale, in a process that carries great risk to the environment. With Norton on the case, how can anything go wrong? and its sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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