Norton Plans to Leave Interior

US Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton has announced her resignation. After serving in the Bush Administration for the past five years, Norton will leave the Cabinet-level post at the end of the month.

"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," Norton said in her resignation letter to the President. "Hopefully, my husband and I will end up closer to the mountains we love in the West."

Norton, 51, is the first woman to serve as Interior Secretary. She is the 48th person to hold that office and has served longer than all but six of her predecessors. She was sworn in on January 31, 2001. After winning reelection in 2004, Bush asked her to continue serving in his Administration.

One-third of the oil, natural gas, and coal produced in the US comes from resources managed by the Department of the Interior. Norton implemented the President's 2001 National Energy Policy calling for increased energy production. The department also is implementing the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

Other energy industry-related activities the department has pursued under Norton's tenure include:

  • Proposing and implementing the 2002-2007 plan for offshore oil and gas production. This plan is projected to produce 22 billion barrels of oil and 61 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. In Fiscal 2005 alone, Interior collected more than $10 billion in mineral revenue--most of that from oil and gas production.
  • Developing a new draft five-year plan for 2007-2012 that proposes additional areas for offshore energy development.
  • Issuing double the number of permits to drill onshore for oil and gas in the past five years when compared to the previous five years.
  • Producing nearly 11 trillion cubic feet of natural gas onshore during 2001-2004, a 17% increase above the previous four years.
  • Conducting research and development of oil shale demonstration projects and providing incentives to encourage development of high-risk, high-cost areas in the Gulf of Mexico.

Company: Minerals Management Service (MMS) more info
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