Opposition to CEQ Appointment Mounts

Published March 1, 1999

A growing number of environmentalists are opposing the appointment of a “proven ideologue” to the vacant chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).

George T. Frampton Jr., former Wilderness Society president and Interior Department undersecretary, “is a proven ideologue with profoundly cavalier attitudes toward the law, the Constitution, and fundamental freedoms,” said Jeff Harris, executive director of People for the USA (PFUSA) in Pueblo, Colorado. PFUSA issued a fax alert, “Throw George out with the trash,” on January 11.

Frampton became CEQ’s acting chairman following the recent resignation from that post of Katie McGinty, who joined her diplomat husband in India.

“His kind scare the hell out of me,” said Dan Thomas, president of the Great Lakes Sports Fishing Council, a 325,000-member association based in Elmhurst, Illinois. “He’s one of the really bad guys.”

But Thomas, who said the sports council prefers to work in areas “where we will do the most good,” plans no campaign to keep Frampton from the CEQ.

“We don’t waste our time lobbying those allied with (Vice President) Gore, because it is futile,” he said.

Frampton, who must be confirmed by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee chaired by Sen. John Chafee (R-Rhode Island), is seen as a very serious threat to private property owners, mining, ranching, and agricultural interests.

“He’s the worst thing to happen to us since (Interior Secretary) Bruce Babbitt,” said Chuck Cushman, executive director of the American Land Rights Association in Battle Ground, Washington. “He’s Babbitt’s henchman, and no person has done more to damage private property and expand federal power than Frampton. My guess is that we’ll try to keep him out.”

According to Cushman, whose group led an unsuccessful attempt to block Frampton’s appointment as Interior’s undersecretary of fish, wildlife, and parks, said Frampton “is a big advocate of using the Endangered Species Act to take or regulate people’s property.”

According to PFUSA’s Harris, Frampton has on his agenda “the removal of ‘hard-release language’ from existing wilderness laws, creating buffer zones around wilderness through restrictive land-use policies, and removal of everything but primitive facilities from national parks.”

Hard-release language leaves open portions of protected areas for multiple use.

At press time, an Interior Department spokesman said he was unaware of any recommendations being issued by his department on Frampton’s behalf, and Chafee’s office had not scheduled confirmation hearings.