In 2003, Gale Norton, then the secretary of the interior, and Michael Leavitt, then the governor of Utah, struck a deal that removed federal protections from about 2.6 million acres of public land in Utah that the Clinton administration had designated as potential wilderness. At the same time, Ms. Norton disavowed her department’s longstanding authority to identify, study and recommend new areas for wilderness protection.
This “no more wilderness” policy, as it came to be known, exposed huge swaths of federal land throughout the Rocky Mountain West to oil and gas drilling and other commercial uses.
President Obama’s interior secretary, Ken Salazar, has reversed many of the Bush administration’s damaging environmental policies. Maddeningly, however, the “no more wilderness” policy is still in place. It is past time for Mr. Salazar to renounce it.