Baca at the barricades
A movement is under way within the Clinton
administration to remove Jim Baca as director of the Bureau of Land
Management. Baca has had a difficult year, butting heads with
ranchers and miners over federal land reforms and with Idaho Gov.
Cecil Andrus over a proposed bombing range (HCN, 1/24/94). On Jan.
27, top officials with the Department of Interior admitted that
Baca was being pressured to take a lower profile job as deputy
assistant secretary for land and minerals management. Within hours
of hearing the news, national environmental groups mounted a
campaign in Baca's defense. "(Removing Baca) would cast serious
doubt on this administration's commitment to reform," said Debbie
Sease, legislative director for the Sierra Club. Alerts went out
through national environmental networks and across the computer
Internet. On Jan. 28 the White House and the Department of Interior
were deluged with angry protests. By noon Clinton's chief of staff
Thomas McLarty ran out of fax paper and was forced to re-route
phone calls. Later that night, Baca announced to the press that he
would not resign. However, at a press conference Jan. 31, Interior
Secretary Bruce Babbitt said discussions were continuing with Baca.
As of presstime, no formal decision had been