When James Cason was named to be an assistant secretary of Agriculture during the first Bush administration, he was forced to withdraw from consideration after strong resistance from Senate Democrats.
Then-Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) dubbed him a “James Watt clone,” a reference to President Reagan’s first Interior secretary, who was known for his strong pro-development positions.
Cason, 46, has now been tapped by President Bush to be associate deputy Interior secretary, which does not require Senate approval.
In 1989, critics cited Cason’s actions as an Interior Department official during the Reagan administration, when he was instrumental in the sale of thousands of acres of oil shale lands in Colorado for $2.50 an acre under an 1872 mining law.
The current maneuver has drawn no heat. A spokesman for Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), who oversees the Interior Department, said Bingaman believes “an administration is entitled to select the people it feels it can best work with . . . unless there is a big problem.”
Cason has spent the last eight years as vice president of risk management for Unifrax Corp., a ceramic fiber insulation maker.