Bruce Babbitt, former Interior Secretary and Governor of Arizona, delivered a pointed speech to the National Press Club yesterday in which he said the current US Congress "has embarked on the most radical course in our history." He continued: "The Congress, led by the House of Representatives, has declared war on our land, water and natural resources. And it is time for those of us who support our conservation tradition to raise our voices on behalf of the American people."
Babbitt then went on to call on President Obama to step up his conservation leadership. "President Obama and the Executive Branch are the best, and likely only, hope for meaningful progress on this critical issue. So I am here today to call on the President to lead us in standing up to the radical agenda of the House of Representatives, and to replace their draconian agenda with a bold conservation vision."
There is growing discontent and disillusionment within the conservation community over Obama's lack of leadership on conservation issues. It is unusual for a former Cabinet Secretary to criticize a successor of the same party. Babbitt did make it clear that his remarks were meant to be forward looking, and to encourage Obama to sieze the opportunity to lead by using such tools as the Antiquities Act to designate new National Monuments.