WASHINGTON, D.C. President Bush picked Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne on Thursday to be his new interior secretary, selecting a pro-development Western Republican to push for more oil and gas drilling from the Gulf of Mexico to Alaska's North Slope.
Kempthorne, 54, would replace departing Secretary Gale Norton if confirmed by the Senate. Norton announced her resignation last week after five years of running a department that manages one-fifth of the nation's land.
Bush said Kempthorne had broad experience needed for managing the 388 parts of the National Park system, 544 wildlife refuges and more than 260 million acres of multiple-use lands located mainly in 12 Western states.
His chances of Senate confirmation are greatly increased by his six years in the Senate from 1993 through 1998.