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Local Woman May Get Interior Post
Santa Barbara News-Press
by Nora K. Wallace
April 5, 2001

Santa Barbara resident Lynn Scarlett has been nominated for a high-level post in the Interior Department - an appointment that could put her in the hot seat on issues such as global warming and oil drilling.

President Bush announced his "intention" to nominate Scarlett as assistant secretary for policy, management and budget in the Interior Department - a top-echelon post in the department. The initial notice will be followed by a formal nomination and a confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate. The process likely will take more than a month.

Scarlett, president of the libertarian-oriented think tank the Reason Foundation, was a member of Bush's environmental policy transition team. She has been associated in various capacities with the Reason Foundation since 1979. The foundation began in Santa Barbara in 1978 and later moved to Los Angeles.

Working in her foundation office on Wednesday, Scarlett said she was "gratified and honored" to have been selected.

The Bush administration's environmental policy has been in the spotlight in recent weeks as the president reversed some campaign promises, including announcing plans to abandon the Kyoto accord on global warming and changing his stance on limiting auto emissions. He also has halted new arsenic restrictions for drinking water.

Scarlett was hesitant to discuss her possible duties, saying she would have to undergo an intensive orientation to determine her exact role. But she did note that Bush has a number of issues to address, including launching his environmental initiatives while trying to grapple with decisions made by Clinton.

A registered Republican, Scarlett is a regular commentator at environmental hearings, consults for several policy Web sites and frequently contributes columns for print and Internet media. In her writings, Scarlett frequently promotes a concept known as "new environmentalism," which favors incentives, innovation and flexibility as alternatives to punishment and fines for environmental violations.

"The position is a wonderful springboard from which to inject some of these ideas into the policy world and onto the agenda of the Interior Department," Scarlett explained Wednesday. "I know (Interior Secretary) Gale Norton herself in speeches has talked about the "four C's" - conservation, collaboration, consultation and cooperation. I'm looking forward to working with her."

Both Scarlett and Norton will be in Big Sur today for a California condor release ceremony.

"Throughout her career, Lynn Scarlett has developed and implemented innovative partnerships between government, environmental groups, industry and everyday citizens committed to protecting and conserving our environment," Norton said in a written statement, "Lynn will open lines of communication between the Interior Department and all people who pledge to preserve our nation's treasures, species and habitat while keeping our prosperity moving forward."

If confirmed, Scarlett will earn $122,400 plus benefits and oversee a staff of about 210 employees. She will be responsible for providing policy guidance and administrative and fiscal oversight of the Interior Department, including the divisions of personnel, budget and policy.

The 30-year resident of the South Coast has a long and varied history of working on environmental policy issues, which she calls her "passion." She's also typically on the road 45 weeks a year. She admits being accustomed to the "bi-coastal" life and said she and her husband solar energy expert Jim Trotter, will keep their Sycamore Canyon home.

The entire confirmation process, Scarlett estimated, could take about seven weeks.

Michael Edesess, chairman of the nonpartisan Rocky Mountain Institute - which deals with energy policy and technology resource issues - has observed Scarlett at various conferences.

"In my opinion, she's an excellent choice," said Edesess, speaking for himself, not as a representative of the Institute. "She's extremely intelligent, very reasonable and has a lot of good ideas. When she looks into issues, she's extremely thorough."

While Edesess said some people in the environmental movement classify opponents in a "them vs. us" manner, "Lynn is just not the enemy. She really thinks about what she says and chooses words thoughtfully. She's evenhanded. She's not any sort of partisan."

Scarlett earned bachelor's and mater's degrees in political science from UCSB and completed Ph.D. course work in political science and political economy at UCSB in 1980. She is on the Dean's advisory council at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management.