Bush's USDA Choice Welcomed By NSAA

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Lakewood, CO, Dec. 21, 2000--With his choice ofCalifornian Ann Veneman to head up the Department of Agriculture-mothershipof the United States Forest Service-President-elect George Bush is placinga problem-solver at the head of the department, a move that was welcomed bythe National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) today.

"She's a problem-solver rather than an ideologue," said Geraldine Hughes,NSAA's director of public policy. "And problem-solving is what we need."Though Veneman, the daughter of peach farmers, will likely concentrate onmatters involving agriculture as it relates to commerce, the prevailingopinion among some Washington insiders from both parties is that she'll doher homework as it relates to the national forests.

But the fact she lacksexperience with the forest system bothers both the Sierra Club andWilderness Society, according to Hughes, who points out that politicalappointees to head the USDA rarely have that experience. Veneman willarrive in Washington without any personal agenda as it relates to forestsand the ski industry, which is just fine with NSAA.

Most of the wranglingwith Forest Service issues will be done by another, as yet unnamed, Bushappointee to become the undersecretary for environment and naturalresources in Veneman's department, a post currently held by Jim Lyons, afriend of the ski industry.

Another appointee, this one a skier, is expected to come tomorrow in theform of New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, who has indicated herintention of accepting a Bush nod to become the new head of theEnvironmental Protection Agency. According to Hughes, "she'll bring abetter balance of business needs and environmental protection."

While somesay Whitman's record on the environment is mixed, the Sierra Club hasindicated it can probably work with her. On top of that, she's got thesupport of both U.S. senators from New Jersey as well as its outgoingsenator, all Democrats. "I think she'll be great," said Hughes. "She comesfrom a background of common-sense policy making."

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