Colorado Women's Hall of Fame

Gale Norton

Inductee Name

Gale Norton

Date of Birth

1954

Year Inducted

2020

Category

Politics, Government & Military Service

Sponsor

Bartlit Beck LLP

Impact

Colorado

Gale Norton

Gale Norton was the first female Colorado Attorney General (1991-99) and the first woman to be appointed as Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior (2001-06). On behalf of Colorado and 45 other states as Colorado Attorney General, Norton helped negotiate the most extensive legal settlement in history: a $206 billion national tobacco settlement, the benefits of which continue to accrue. Gale is an exceptional role model for all women, but in particular those interested in pursuing careers in the law and public policy advocacy.

Norton pursued and won the suit against the Canadian mines speculator responsible for the environmental disaster at Summitville, caused by leakage of mining by-products into local waterways. She also won a significant court victory against the federal government, requiring the government to clean up hazardous waste at Rocky Flats and the Rocky Mountain Arsenal.

During her time as Secretary of the Interior, the U.S. faced an energy crisis, and Norton introduced and diversified new domestic energy supplies. Among other initiatives, she worked closely with Congress to enact the Energy Policy Act of 2005 which set a 10-year goal for 10,000 megawatts of renewable energy from public sources. Norton also resolved a 70-year water dispute between Colorado and California, launched her water initiative to address Western water challenges and championed the creation of two crucial Colorado conservation areas: the Great Sand Dunes National Park and the Baca National Wildlife Refuge.

In 2011, she established the Norton Regulatory Strategies where she provides policy advice to companies and organizations. She remains active representing the public interests in environmental policy and the protection of our natural resources, having chaired the National Park Foundation and the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission.