Bush's go-to guy on oil exploration on public lands resigns

| 12/8/2004

Steve Griles, deputy secretary of the interior, has submitted his resignation to the Bush administration.

Griles was known for heading the administration’s efforts to open public lands for energy exploration, such as searching for additional oil reserves. The Bush administration has pushed to increase production from U.S. resources as a way to bring down the price of oil and other energy sources – and by extension, the prices at the pump.

Interior Secretary Gail Norton, Griles’ supervisor, praised his work for the government. Through his work, Norton said, “We have moved federal relations with the West from antagonism to cooperative conservation. We have helped implement the National Energy Policy. We have improved the health of public land forests and rangelands, and enhanced wildlife refuges and our national parks. We have advanced federal water policy and resolved conflicts where possible.”

The administration’s position on domestic oil supplies – including possibly allowing drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge – made it a favorite target of environmentalists, who also criticized Griles’ connections to private energy concerns.

In a series of “talking points” delivered to the National Western Mining Conference in early 2003 and made available by the Interior Department, Griles said, “The president’s energy plan encouraged domestic development of oil including the biggest untapped source we have in Alaska. ANWR is the largest geologic structure untapped in the USA. Even though it will not make us energy or oil independent, it is an important component of a diverse energy supply and we must give the USA opportunity to recover that oil.”