Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2008

James Watt - Secretary of the Interior, 1981-1983

You can say this for Watt: he was a quote machine. The Reagan appointee once infamously bifurcated the American people into "liberals and Americans," made another regrettable quip featuring "a black, a woman, two Jews and a cripple," and seemed to invoke religion as justification for his policies. In a job that requires balancing the protection of natural resources with harnessing the commercial potential of federal land, Watt was viewed by many as favoring development over preservation. Among the acts environmentalists decried: leasing massive tracts of land to coal-mining companies (the amount quintipled during his tenure) and opening up large swaths of the outer continental shelf to offshore oil drillers.