Department of the Interior

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Office of the Secretary
Contact: Dan DuBray
December 1, 2004
(202) 208-6415

Secretary Norton Lauds Bennett Raley for Work on
Western Water Issues


WASHINGTON -- Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton today accepted with regret the resignation of Bennett Raley, the department's assistant secretary for Water and Science. Raley, who oversaw Interior initiatives on a number of critical water challenges facing the West, submitted his letter of resignation today, saying he wished to return to the practice of law and to have more time to spend with his family. His resignation will be effective Dec.3, 2004.

"Bennett has been the linchpin of this administration's Western water policy, tackling some of the most contentious issues facing the region during a prolonged period of drought," Norton said. "As the lead federal negotiator on the 2003 Colorado River Water Delivery Agreement, he helped to bring certainty and predictability to the long-term water supplies of Colorado River Basin states. The agreement resolved issues that had divided water users in the lower Colorado River basin for more than 70 years and led to the largest transfer of water from agricultural use to urban use in U.S. history."

"Bennett also played the leading role in our Water 2025 Initiative, which received bipartisan support to provide assistance to Western communities facing chronic water shortages," Norton said. "He oversaw work on the Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program and, most recently, the experimental Glen Canyon Dam release to evaluate the use of high flows as a management tool for the restoration of natural resources in the Colorado River.

"Bennett has had a challenging and productive tenure, and I can appreciate his desire to return to the practice of law and spend more time with his family."

Raley expressed gratitude for the opportunity to work on initiatives of critical importance to the West. "It has been an honor to have served President Bush and Secretary Norton. I am proud to have been a part of the many accomplishments of this administration's first term," he said.

"I am grateful to have played a role in the administration's successes on the Colorado River, Water 2025, the Arizona Indian Water Rights Settlement Act and the CalFed legislation," Raley said. "It also has been a privilege to work with outstanding political and career civil servants at Interior, who are among the finest professionals I have met.

"I have mixed emotions about leaving the administration and the department but believe that this is an appropriate time to return to private life."

Raley joined the department in July 2001, after serving in various state (Colorado and New Mexico) and interstate leadership capacities on water and natural resources initiatives. He had been general counsel for the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District and special assistant attorney general for the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer and Interstate Stream Commission.

Raley also served as chief counsel to Western members of the U.S. Senate. He was a shareholder of Trout & Raley, P.C. He has a juris doctor degree from the University of Colorado School of Law.


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