Interior Secretary Gale Norton resigned Friday (March 10) after five years in President Bush’s Cabinet and at a time when her agency is part of a lobbying scandal over Indian gaming licenses.
In a letter to Bush, Norton said she the resignation would be effective at the end of March.
“Now I feel it is time for me to leave this mountain you gave me to climb, catch my breath, then set my sights on new goals to achieve in the private sector,” she said in the two-page resignation letter.
Norton, who turns 52 on Saturday, said she and her husband “hope to end up closer to the mountains we love in the West.”
A former Colorado attorney general, Norton guided the Bush administration’s initiative to open Western government lands to more oil and gas drilling.
As one of the architects of Bush’s energy policy, she eased regulations to speed approval of drilling permits, particularly in New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming’s Powder River Basin.
She also was the administration’s biggest advocate for opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on Alaska’s North Slope to oil drilling.