By Jaclyn Lopez
The first time I met Representative Raúl Grijalva was in 2005 at the Tucson Community Earth Day Celebration. The inaugural event was the environmental communities’ answer to the greenwashed, Raytheon-sponsored Earth Day parade.
Representative Grijalva, and then-State Senator Garbrielle Giffords, showed their full support of the event by attending the opening ceremony and speaking from their hearts about the state of the environment to a crowd of concerned Arizonans.
Representative Grijalva began his public service career as a community organizer for senior and minority neighborhoods. He was the first Latino elected to the Tucson Unified School District Governing Board in more than 100 years, and served on the Pima County Board of Supervisors.
Since taking office in 2002, Representative Grijalva has been a champion for a variety of important issues, including the environment, education, and employment.
He is Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, where he has fought for affordable health care and job creation, and the Co-Chair of the National Landscape Conservation System Caucus where he has demonstrated his commitment to environmental issues. He’s also a Ranking Member, and former Chairman, of the National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee which oversees 600 million acres of federal land. His priorities with that subcommittee have been protecting wilderness areas and endangered species, reform of oil and gas drilling, and improving operations throughout the national parks, forests and public lands.
Given his demonstrated commitment to the environment and social issues, it is no wonder that a diverse group of organizations have called on President Obama to appoint Representative Grijalva as the next Secretary of the Department of the Interior.
Organizations like Latinos Go Green, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Rainforest Action Network, Center for Biological Diversity and Labor Network for Sustainability advance Representative Grijalva for the post because they believe that he is the sort of “visionary leader who grasps both the urgency” of environmental issues as well as “the practical paths toward real-world solutions.”
(Editor’s note: Latina Lista is also a signee to the letter to the President encouraging him to appoint Rep. Grijalva as the next Secretary of the Interior.)
After the Presidency, there is no greater role a U.S. official can play in shaping our environment than the Secretary of the Interior.
The Secretary is responsible for managing our national parks, wildlife refuges, public lands, and wildlife in the face of growing threats to our environment. Other duties include regulating extractive industries, like oil and gas, in our public lands and oceans, and managing the U.S. Geological Survey, a science-based agency that studies natural resources.
The endorsement of Representative Grijalva comes on the heels of speculation that current Secretary, Ken Salazar, may soon resign his post. You can support this appointment too by signing a petition to President Obama.
Jaclyn Lopez is a staff attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. This article reflects her opinions and does not represent those of the Center.