Bush Picks Idaho Governor to Head Dept. of Interior

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Dirk Kempthorne is the president's nominee to lead the Department of the Interior. He's currently the governor of Idaho. If the Senate confirms Kempthorne, he'll succeed Gale Norton, who resigned last week.

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

President Bush has chosen Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne to be the next interior secretary. If confirmed by the Senate, he would take over from Gail Norton, who resigned last week.

NPR's Elizabeth Shogren has more.

ELIZABETH SHOGREN: Kempthorne's got an impressive resume. He's been a senator, governor, and mayor of Boise. When President Bush introduced him yesterday at a White House ceremony, he talked about a bike ride the two men took last year through some of Idaho's beautiful landscape, and Kempthorne's appreciation for the outdoors.

GEORGE BUSH: Dirk has had a long and abiding love for nature. When he and his wife, Patricia, were married, they chose to hold the ceremony out atop Idaho's Moscow Mountain at sunrise. Dirk said, I don't think there's a more beautiful cathedral than the outdoors.

SHOGREN: As Interior Secretary, Kempthorne would oversee America's national parks, wildlife refuges, wilderness areas, and energy reserve. President Bush says Kempthorne agrees with his own philosophy for managing those resources.

BUSH: Dirk understands that those who live closest to the land know how to manage it best, and he will work closely with state and local leaders to ensure wise stewardship of our resources.

SHOGREN: Kempthorne was one of several western governors who sued the federal government to keep national forest lands open for road building and logging. Kempthorne says he would work with all sides as interior secretary.

DIRK KEMPTHORNE: Mr. President, one of the hallmarks of my public service, has been my ability to bring people to the table and to work together to build consensus. I pledge to you and to the American people that I will continue in that role of reaching out and finding solutions.

SHOGREN: Some former Clinton administration officials who worked with Kempthorne when he was in the Senate, say they believe he will be more accommodating to environmentalists than Norton was. But some environmentalists say they expect Kempthorne to continue what they see as the Bush administration's pattern of sacrificing beautiful scenery to drill rigs and mining operations.

Elizabeth Shogren, NPR News, Washington.

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