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Anne Gorsuch

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Anne Gorsuch was Ronald Reagan's choice for director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in January 1981, who was later forced to resign, along with a number of her senior staff. She was replaced by William D Ruckelshaus. See excellent overview of the EPA, staffing, etc. [2]

Her birth name was Anne Irene McGill, and she often used McGill as her middle name in Anne McGill Gorsuch and After her second marrriage she called herself Anne Gorsuch Burford. Some entries in SourceWatch have also used Anne M. Gorsuch. Note that there is also a prominent historian, Anne Gorsuch, who is said NOT to be a relative.

Gorsuch later wrote a book attacking President Reagan saying she only did what she was asked to do -- which was effectively nothing. The same publication says George W Bush also cut back EPA budget, and did nothing about health hazards either.

Gorsuch's EPA also had a deputy Rita Lavelle who was forced out over lying to Congress, and deputy administrator John Hernandez and John Todhunter all of who were removed during this 1981-84 first term of Reagan's presidency. James Watt and Anne Gorsuch Burford were the two most reviled people in the Reagan administration.

Reagan's ignorance in this area is personified by James Watt and Anne Gorsuch, the leaders he selected to head the Department of Interior and the U.S. EPA, respectively. "Never has America seen two more intensely controversial and blatantly anti-environmental political appointees than Watt and Gorsuch," said Greg Wetstone, director of advocacy at the Natural Resources Defense Council, who served on the Hill during the Reagan era as chief environment council at the House Energy and Commerce Committee.The list of rollbacks attempted by these administrators is as sweeping as those of the current administration {Date 2002 ?}.

"James Watt had all the political skills and public relations sense of a boa constrictor," said Jim DiPeso, policy director at REP. "When Watt wanted to open up wilderness areas to mining and drilling regardless of the environmental consequences, he said just that. But at least he had the virtue of being a straight shooter."

Watt's impolitic bluntness ultimately got the best of him. He made the most odious comment of his career in defense of his widely criticized decision to authorize the sale of more than 1 billion tons of coal from federal lands in Wyoming. He argued that he was immune to criticism because members of his coal-advisory panel included "a black ... a woman, two Jews, and a cripple." This comment got him fired in 1983, the same year that Gorsuch was forced to resign because documents exposed by Congress revealed major misconduct within her agency.

James Watt, former Secretary of the Interior under Reagan, did more to boost environmental activists than any green government initiative.

Also these comments come from sociologists Robert Antonio and Robert Brulle:

Neoliberals sought to weaken the substantial network of environmental regulations and oversight agencies, created in the 1970s, and to blunt the environmental movement’s effort to strengthen this system and make it more comprehensive. In the 1970s, new neoliberal organizations, centered in the mountain states, spearheaded the “Sagebrush Rebellion” to defend property rights and oppose environmental regulation (Cawley 1993). These forces gained political traction under President Reagan, who made James Watt, a leader in the Sagebrush Rebellion, Secretary of the Interior and Ann Gorsuch EPA head.

Reagan empowered the anti-environmentalist countermovement, and forged the neoliberal Republican strategy of selecting opponents of regulation to lead environmental and other regulatory agencies, deemed to be “intrusive” and “antibusiness.”

The momentum of the Sagebrush Rebellion faded after Reagan’s first term as Watt and Gorsuch were forced to resign due to allegations of illegal activities. However, the issues raised by the Sagebrush Rebellion gained new impetus, in the late 1980s, under a more comprehensive movement known as the “Wise Use Movement,” which argued that market mechanisms can best manage all natural resources and environmental problems (Cawley 1993:166). [1]

Documents & Timeline

1942 April 21 Born Anne Irene McGill in Casper, Wyoming.


She studied at the University of Colorado at Boulder, earning both a bachelor and law degree there. She was also a Fulbright Scholar, studying criminal law in India.


1970 -76/E Corporate attorney for Mountain Bell. Then Assistant district attorney and later deputy district attorney in Denver;


1976-80 served in the Colorado House of Representatives for two terms. Married David Gorsuch


1980 Nov-Dec QUOTE [Source unknown]

The creation of Superfund — aimed at cleaning up toxic wastes — was rushed through the Congress in Jimmy Carter's lame-duck period and has turned out to be a fabulously expensive drain on taxpayers and shareholders. Its main effect seems to be to provide work for EPA inspectors and lawyers, with only a small proportion of funds going for reclaiming toxic materials and disposing of them. Preoccupied with trying to contain budgetary outlays on Superfund, the Reagan Administration devoted all its intellectual energy to limiting the immediate costs to the federal budget, with sad consequences for industry.


1981 Jan President Reagan inauguration. James G Watt of the Sagebrush Rebellion and the Wise Use movement became Secretary of the Interior (Mr. Reagan's said Watt was his 'favorite' cabinet member); Thorne Auchter a building contractor with a bad record became director of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and James J Tozzi became deputy at the OMB and head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs]] (OIRA) in charge of blocking regulatory activities.

Tozzi and Auchter went on to become top lobbyists for the tobacco industry and a range of other industries with poisoning and polluting problems.

1981 May 20

  • Anne McGill Burford sworn in as the first female Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. She pledged rule reform and decentralization of decision-making.[3]. She noted that her first target was the Clean Air Act and insisted on removal of the "margin of safety clause" from the standard. The American Industrial Health Council (AIHC) became a top-level advisor.
One of the AIHC's Administrators Paul Cammer admitted that this was little more than a front for the SOCMA (Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturer's Association.

Gorsuch Burford advocated general regulatory reform and budgetary cuts to her own agency. Under her leadership, the EPA's budget (excluding Superfund) dropped by $200 million and the staff was slashed by 23%.
President Reagan also nominated to the EPA:

  • John A Todhunter Assistant Administrator for Pesticides and Toxic Substances
  • Kathleen M Bennett Assistant Administrator fo Air Noise and Radiation. (Hearings on IAQ in June recommended standards revision and that the words "ample margin of safety" be deleted from the standard.
  • John Hernandez Deputy Administration. He was reviewing functions of Science Advisory Board Committees. Recommended adding environmental and industry groups to the SAB peer review panels on scientific data.
    A number of the old EPA staff resigned between May and June in 1981.

Administrator Anne Gorsuch filled new posts which had been created as part of reorganisation:

" Of her first 19 appointees, 15 were business executives. No environmentalists."

  • Frank Shepherd, Associate Administrator for Legal Counsel and Enforcement (ex Miami lawyer)
  • Nolan E Clark Associate Administrator for Policy and Resource Maangement(Washington lawyer)
  • William A Sullivan Jr]. Associate Administrator for Legal Counsel and Enforcement (ex lawyer/consultant to steel communities)
  • Robert M Perry, EPA General Counsel (Houston corporate trial attorney)
  • John E Daniel, Chief of Staff for Administrator (ex lawyer and Washington Representative)
  • Thornton W Field, Administrator's special assistant for hazardous wastes (enver attorney and regulatory affairs specialist)
  • Kitty Adams, special assistant for regulatory reform (environmental consultant and leg. assistant to US Senate)
  • Joseph A Cannon, special assistant for regulatory reform (Washington attorney)
  • Christopher J Capper, Special Assistant/Acting Assistant Administrator for Solid Waste and Emergency Response. (no background)
  • Paul Milbauer, special assistant to the Administrator and adviser on toxic substances
  • Byron Nelson III, Director, Office of Public Affairs (ex journalist and Senatorial press secretary) ] (Also biogs for Horton, Todhunter and Bennett) [4]

1981 July 1 Environmental Health Letter (Gershon Fishbein) says that Anne Gorsuch, Reagan's head of the EPA, has named as EPA executivess.

  • Steven J. Durham, who served in the Colorado legislature with EPA Administrator Anne M. Gorsuch, has been designated EPA's regional rep in Denver, covering the Mountain States area. A resident of Colorado Springs, he is currently general manager of Seven Falls Co., which operates a major tourist facility.
  • Charles R, Jeter, director of the water pollution control program in the South Carolina Department of Health & Environmental Control, has been appointed regional EPA rep in Atlanta; he was the president last year of the Association of State & Interstate Water Pollution Control Administrators. [Other EPA appointments: ]
  • John E. Daniel, former director of legislative affairs for the American Paper Institute, as chief of staff.
  • Frank A. Shepherd, a Miami attorney who has represented several large corporations, asassociate administrator for legal counsel and enforcement.
  • Robert M. Perry, an attorney for Exxon in Houston, as general counsel.
  • Nolan E. Clark, a Washington attorney, as associate administrator for policy and resource management.
  • William A, Sullivan, Jr., an attorney who represented cities with large steel mills, as deputy associate administrator for legal counsel and enforcement.
  • Thornton W. Field, an attorney for Adolph Coors Co., as special assistant for hazardous wastes.
  • Joseph A. Cannon, an attorney and member of the Reagan-Bush Campaign Committee staff, as special assistant for regulatory reform
  • Kitty Adams, former aide to the Business Roundtable, as special assistant for regulatory reform.

[5] QUOTE:

Coors handpicked his Colorado associates: Anne Gorsuch became the EPA administrator; her husband, Robert Burford, a cattle baron who had vowed to destroy the Bureau of Land Management, was selected to head that very agency. Most notorious, Coors chose James Watt, president of the Mountain States Legal Foundation, as the secretary of the interior. [Source unknown]


1981 Aug 7The Tobacco Institute reports on a letter sent by Democrat Representative Toby Moffett (D-CT) to Gorsuch at the EPA. He has promoting the National Academy of Sciences (NAS-NRC) report on Indoor Air Pollutant, and "complaining that the EPA is planning to eliminate almost all indoor air pollution research by fiscal year 1982." [6] He urged Gorsuch to study the report which suggests the greatest problems with IAQ come from radon, tobacco smoke, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and airborne microorganisms and allergens.[7]


1981-82 She married Robert Burford, head of Bureau of Land Management and began using name Anne Gosuch Burford.


1982 Anne Gorsuch Burford decided not to consider regulating formaldehyde, a ubiquitous chemical that causes tumors in animals and was a common exudate from some forms of plywood and particleboard used in buildings. When she was replaced by [[William D Ruckelshaus[[ in 1983, the EPA decided to look at the chemicals again. [8] [9]


1982 June Environmental Health Letters reports that:

EPA is going through a series of top-level management shifts, partly—but not entirely—resulting from the withdrawal of the nomination of Denver lawyer James Sanderson for the post of Assistant Administrator for Policy and Resource Management, the No. 3 post in the agency (behind Administrator Anne M. Gorsuch and Deputy Administrator John Herhandez).

Immediately after withdrawal of the Sanderson nomination, EPA appointed Joseph A. Cannon as Associate Administrator for Policy and Resource Management, where he has been acting since last September. It should be noted that the post of Associate Administrator does not require Senate confirmation; Assistant Administrator, for which Sanderson was to be nominated, does require it.

Sanderson was an attorney representing Chemical Waste Management, the Denver Water Board, and other clients including Chevron Shale Oil, Snowmass and Adolph Coors Co., while simultaneously serving as a paid Special Assistant/advisor to EPA Administrator Anne Gorsuch. The EPA was dealing with the Colorado Water Quality Standards issue at that time, and she must have been aware of his lobbying work.[10] [11]

{The) EPA sought to avoid the Sanderson flap by asking the White House to nominate John Daniel, now chief of staff at EPA (which does not require Senate confirmation) to the post of Assistant Administrator, for which he presumably would have no trouble being confirmed. Then, according to our sources, Sanderson would be appointed to Daniel's post. The White House is understood to have rejected the plan.

Cannon will be responsible for policy analysis, regulatory reform, the budget, standards, regulations and management systems and evaluation. Cannon, 32, served in two Washington law firms before joining EPA in May 1981 as special assistant to the Administrator,[12]

1983 Both James Watt and Anne Gorsuch Burford were forced to leave the Reagan Administration this year. Burford was compelled to resign along with twenty of her top employees after being found in contempt of Congress in a 259-105 vote after refusing to disclose documents related to a conflict of interest involving the Superfund program.


1983 Nov 8 James Watt resigned from the Interior post. His zeal has led more than one million Americans to sign petitions to fire him.


1984-85 A year after her resignation President Reagan, seeking to reward a loyalist, appointed her to the chairmanship of the National Advisory Committee on Oceans and the Atmosphere]. [13]


1988 Oct 28 A Jack Anderson column: '"Bush aide linked to environment probe" is about the scandals that broke up the Sagebush Rebellion staffers who had been given the spoils of the Reagan Campaign in 1981 -- and messed it up. The most obvious scandal (among many) was the EPA's non-action over the Superfund clean-up and the use of the money for political purposes. This was run by Anne Gorsuch Burford (EPA Administrator) and her deputy Rita Lavelle (both fired). His article begins:

George Bush didn't have to go to Boston Harbor to find an environmental scandal. His own right-hand man appears to have been wading in the Rita-Lavelle-Superfund quagmire.

Craig Fuller, now Bush's chief or staff, was a "worker bee" running messages between the White House and Lavelle at the EPA during the Superfund scandal of 1982 and 1983, according to Lavelle. In an interview Lavelle said that Fuller was well aware of the scheme to funnel Superfund cleanup money to the states where it would help Republican candidates. But she said Fuller, then secretary of Cabinet Affairs, did not engineer the scheme. The Superfund was authorized by Congress to clean up hazardous waste.

[[[Craig Fuller was then employed by Philip Morris and became one of the top dissemblers and science corrupters for the tobacco industry.]

Lavelle says she frequently informed Fuller about matters in the Superfund program, including a briefing about apparent political manipulation of the program. To this day, Lavelle maintains her innocense in the scheme, and claims she protested the alleged manipulation. Lavelle served a prison term for lying to Congress about the issue.

[She was support in this claim by exEPA Administrator Anne Gorsuch Burford in her book. Gorsuch-Burford was fired as a result of the scandal, [and] writes that she suspected the White House of guiding Lavelle".

Even former Attorney General Edwin Meese linked Fuller and Lavelle. Meese was asked about Lavelle in his confirmation hearing. "I do not recall every talking with her about any particular toxic waste site. I suspect she may be confusing me with Craig Fuller in that testimony."

Lavelle says she told Fuller about the apprarent politicizing of Superfund money and asked him to convey her protest over it to the White House. It was after she alerted Fuller that Lavelle says the White House launched a scheme to frame her. "Me going to jail was a result of that," she said. "It is not fair to blame Craig Fuller - He was a foot soldier," said Lavelle. She blames Meese, former White House aide Michael Deaver, and counsel Fred Fielding.

[14]
[Lavelle, Gorsuch and most of their associates were part of the Sagebrush Rebellion, funded by Joseph Coors via the Mountain States Legal Foundation and the Heritage Foundation. Lawyer Edwin Meese was Coor's bag-man and direct channel to these organisations.


1990/E President George HW Bush appointed her to a Science and Technology committee (details unknown)


2004 July 18 Died of cancer aged 62. She was still in the process of divorcing Robert Burford. (Her son is Neil M Gorsuch, a federal Judge in Court of Appeal for Tenth Circuit)

  1. 2011 Sociological Quarterly, The Unbearable Lightness of Politics: Climate Change Denial and Political Polarization, by Robert J Antonio, Uni of Kansas and Robert J Brulle, Drexel University.