Bush Taps Former Colorado AG to Head Interior Dept.

President-elect George W. Bush named Gale Norton, a former Colorado attorney general to head the Interior Department on Friday.

Norton, now a Denver Lawyer, held posts in the Interior and Agriculture departments in earlier Republican administrations. Bush said she will help him "find ways to develop our nation's resources in a balanced and environmentally friendly way."

Jerry Jordan, chairman of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, said Norton was a "sound, capable attorney general in Colorado and understands the issues in the West where federal land so dominates access to the natural resource base. IPAA is looking forward to working with her to address the energy supply problems that are so significant in our nation today." The IPAA represents 5,000 independent oil and natural gas producers and service companies across the United States.

Christine Hansen, executive director of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, also lauded the appointment, saying Norton "brings a much-needed state perspective to Washington, D.C."

Norton was among three others named to Bush Cabinet posts on Friday. Bush chose Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson as his secretary of Health and Human Services, Houston schools superintendent Rod Paige as his education secretary and former deputy secretary of veterans affairs Anthony Principi as secretary of that department. The Friday appointments left three Cabinet slots to be filled after the New Year, the secretaries of labor, energy and transportation.

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