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The Los Angeles Times is reporting this morning that former interior Secretary Gale A. Norton (above) is being investigated to determine if she illegally used her position to benefit Royal Dutch Shell PLC. Royal Dutch Shell hired Norton after she left the Interior Department. Interior in 2006 awarded three oil shale leases on federal land in Colorado to a Royal Dutch subsidiary. Reporters Jim Tankersley and Josh Meyer wrote that a Rand Corp. expert said the “deal could net the company hundreds of billions of dollars.”
“The investigation’s main focus is whether Norton violated a law that prohibits federal employees from discussing employment with a company if they are involved in dealings with the government that could benefit the firm, law enforcement and Interior officials said,” the Times reported. The investigation began during the last months of the George W. Bush administration.
Norton, 55, is the former attorney general of Colorado and has been a long-time backer of oil shale development. The leases were granted to the Royal Dutch Shell subsidiary in 2006 on the recommendation of a team representing several federal agencies. In December of that year, Norton went to work for Shell. Five leases covering up to 25,000 acres, mostly in rural Colorado, were granted. Shell was the only company to be granted more than one lease.