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Former US Interior Secretary Manuel Lujn Jr. has died


AP Santa Fe (US)
Manuel Lujn Jr, who spent 20 years as a Republican congressman and later as a US Interior Secretary who drew fire from environmentalists for challenging the Endangered Species Act, has died. He was 90.
New Mexico Gov Michelle Lujn Grisham, who was a distant cousin, said Lujan died Thursday at his home in Albuquerque.
He had a long history of heart trouble and underwent triple-bypass surgery after a 1986 heart attack.
"Manuel Lujn was the picture of a statesman," the Democratic governor said in a statement Friday.
"Over the course of ten Congressional terms and four years as secretary of the Interior, he fought for his constituents, striving for balance between competing interests."

Lujn represented New Mexico's 1st District from 1969 to 1989.
He gained a reputation as an advocate for Native Americans, business and constituents in a majority-Democratic district.
As Lujn's final term wound down, President George HW Bush tapped him for his Cabinet.
As interior secretary, Lujn sought to strike a balance between business interests and the Endangered Species Act, which he said was too tough on regional economies.
He said proposed federal protection of the northern spotted owl in the Pacific Northwest would cost 31,000 timber jobs.
Calling those consequences unacceptable, Lujn launched an exemption process by convening a little-used committee with the power to allow logging to continue despite the threat to the owl.
"No solution to this problem could be found short of this action," Lujn said, pointing to major economic disruptions to Northwest timber towns.
The Cabinet-level panel, known as the "God Squad" because of its authority to allow species to become extinct, was disbanded later amid legal challenges.
Environmentalists also recoiled when Lujn shrugged off efforts to protect the Mount Graham red squirrel in Arizona.
"Do we have to save every subspecies?" he said.
"Nobody's told me the difference between a red squirrel, a black one or a brown one."

Lujn remained in the Cabinet until the end of Bush's term in January 1993.
Five minutes before the Republican president left office, Lujn tried to transfer federally owned desert land in Southern California that he and then-California Gov. Pete Wilson wanted for a nuclear waste dump.
Lujn's successor, Bruce Babbitt, rescinded the order, and courts determined Lujn acted improperly.
At the same time, Lujn was a prime mover in creating Petroglyphs National Monument on the rugged volcanic mesa located west of Albuquerque, to protect thousands of prehistoric and historic petroglyphs.
After leaving government, Lujn became a lobbyist for a development company that owned petroglyph-studded land.
The Lujn name still resonates in New Mexico politics, though Democrats last year consolidated control over the state's delegation to Washington.
In a statement Friday, Democratic US Rep. and Senate candidate Ben Ray Lujn, who was not related, praised Manuel Lujn for opening opportunities for Hispanics in federal government.
Lujn is survived by his wife, Jean, and three children.

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First Published: Apr 27 2019 | 6:00 AM IST

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