NEW YORK - Alanis Morissette, Beastie Boy Mike
D and producer Rick Rubin have joined environmental groups in
an effort to oust the federal government's national parks czar.
In a letter posted on Morissette's Web site, the artists
claim that Deputy Interior Secretary J. Steven Griles is
failing to properly oversee such national parks as Yellowstone,
Yosemite and the Grand Canyon.
"He has been leading the efforts to drill for oil and gas
on these public lands, and he's been working to weaken the laws
that protect the air," the letter reads.
It asks fans to sign a petition demanding the dismissal of
Griles at firegriles.com, a site and movement spearheaded by
such organizations as Greenpeace and Americans for Energy
Prior to joining the Department of the Interior, Griles was
an oil, gas and coal lobbyist. The letter claims that he is
still being paid $284,000 per year by an "old lobbying company
... which we feel is a pretty big conflict of interest."
Firegriles.com names that company as National Environmental
"His job of overseeing our national parks is at odds with
his working hard to help oil companies flourish," the letter
Department of the Interior spokesman Mark Pfeifle describes
the comments of Morissette and others as "discarded talking
points from partisan special-interest groups." He stresses that
Griles has instead worked to advance the administration's
initiatives to make the land clearer, the air cleaner and the
water safer than when he entered office.
He adds, "To borrow a line from Alanis, isn't it ironic
that a Canadian citizen who is not registered to vote in the
U.S. is leading" the effort, which he calls "misinformed."
Pfeifle says that while Griles did serve as a lobbyist for
oil companies and electric utilities, he also lobbied for the
nation's largest renewable energy company, New York state-based
The $284,000, he says, was approved by the government
ethics office and in a bipartisan manner in the U.S. Senate
Energy and Natural Resource Committee before Griles appeared
before the Senate for his confirmation hearing.
"It's fairly standard when somebody gives up his or her
practice that they receive payment for it," Pfeifle says. "He
worked many years at something; you don't just give it away for
Morissette is a supporter of numerous environmental,
political action and human-rights groups, including Amnesty
International. She is to receive the Missions in Music Award
Nov. 5 at the 13th Annual Environmental Media Awards in Los
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