Manuel Luján Jr., a dilapidated 10-duration of time Republican congressman from Contemporary Mexico and a secretary of the within whose efforts to balance pattern and conservation of federal lands regularly left him at loggerheads with environmentalists, died on Thursday night at his home in Albuquerque. He became once 90.
A granddaughter, Amy Everett, confirmed the dying. In a statement, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of Contemporary Mexico, a Democrat and a far off cousin of his, called Mr. Luján “the sing of a statesman.”
The scion of a neatly-linked Contemporary Mexico family, Mr. Luján mounted his first congressional marketing and marketing campaign in 1968 at age forty, unseating the incumbent, Thomas Morris, and changing into the first Republican congressman from Contemporary Mexico since 1931.
He held that diagram repeatedly for the next Two decades without reference to main demographic shifts in his constituency.
In his early years as a replace of enterprise, Mr. Luján represented a mainly rural district, encompassing various Native American territories and tidy undeveloped areas of Northern Contemporary Mexico. He joined the Residence Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs in his first duration of time and rose to significantly change the ranking Republican member by 1981.
In the early 1980s, his district became once shriveled to a slim set up spherical Albuquerque. Tailoring his agenda to a more metropolis snide with overview and skills interests, luxuriate in the Sandia Nationwide Laboratory, he joined the Committee on Insist, Science and Skills, changing into the ranking Republican in 1987.
In general described as an very fair appropriate-tempered and vivid public servant, Mr. Luján on the total favored native solutions over sweeping federal legislation. “To in this day and age, I don’t deem that now we believe to go a legislation for all the pieces, for all of the ills that now we believe,” he acknowledged in an interview in 2000. “Matter of truth, I deem that the less laws now we believe, the easier off we’re.”
Bruce F. Vento, a dilapidated congressman from Minnesota, called him “a pragmatic guy who operates on this planet of the which you may per chance presumably also take into consideration.”
Before he may per chance perhaps perhaps retire in 1988, having decided to forgo an 11th duration of time, Mr. Luján became once nominated by President-elect George H. W. Bush to be his secretary of the within. He grew to significantly change the 2d Hispanic-American to wait on in a cupboard, following within the footsteps of Lauro F. Cavazos Jr., who had simplest months earlier significantly change secretary of education beneath President Ronald Reagan.
Despite the proven truth that Mr. Luján became once confirmed unanimously by the Senate in 1989, his fingers-off manner to governance and eagerness to accommodate competing interests proved less fashionable within the wake of various nationwide controversies.
Internal months of his confirmation, he became once confronted by the Exxon Valdez oil spill, which touched off an environmental crisis in Alaska. Despite the proven truth that Mr. Luján helped oversee cleanup efforts and negotiate settlements with Exxon, he drew fire for simultaneously pushing ahead with proposals to initiate facets of California and Florida to offshore drilling.
He became once moreover criticized for his skepticism about the Endangered Species Act and his hesitance to prolong federal safety to the northern spotted owl, a take a look at case within the larger debate over endangered species.
In 1991, Mr. Luján became once fragment of the so-called God Squad — a committee of cabinet officers tasked with deciding whether or to not enable logging in ragged-development forests belief to be serious to the owl’s survival.
Angering environmentalists, the committee voted to sell logging rights in some areas whereas inserting other tracts off limits. A federal judge later overruled that call.
Whereas critics complained that Mr. Luján’s insurance policies echoed the pro-industry philosophy of such predecessors as James G. Watt and Donald P. Hodel, both of whom served beneath Reagan, Mr. Luján became once belief of more initiate to compromise.
He became once a shut buddy of Morris K. Udall, the liberal Democratic congressman and famed preservationist, and the two worked carefully collectively on the Residence Interior and Insular Affairs Committee, which Mr. Udall led starting in 1977. “Mo and I never had any difficulties as far as partisanship became once concerned,” Mr. Luján acknowledged.
As secretary, he moreover told President Bush on reversing a preference of Reagan-skills insurance policies seen as out of touch with contemporary environmental requirements. The brand new insurance policies included raising the costs that coal companies paid to mine on federal land, to boot to those paid by concessionaires in federal parks, with one of the most income returned to the park gadget.
“Interior is luxuriate in a sack stuffed with cats,” Mr. Luján acknowledged in 1990. “All those diversified interests, and you’re within the guts of that sack making an strive to retain each person away from every other.”
José Manuel Luján Jr., one in all 9 kids, became once born on Would possibly 12, 1928, on a farm by the San Ildefonso Pueblo in Santa Fe County, N.M. His father became once the founding father of Manuel Luján Agencies, an insurance company, and became once mayor of Santa Fe from 1942 to 1948. His mother, Lorenzita (Romero) Luján, became once a trainer and served as Santa Fe County clerk.
Mr. Luján’s family became once compelled to relocate twice throughout his childhood — first when the federal authorities enlarged the Native American reservations neighboring their farm, and again when their home in Los Alamos became once displaced by the Prolonged island Project, which developed the atomic bomb.
He regularly credited those experiences with informing his opinions about federal alter over public lands, in particular on the mission of safeguarding Native American land rights.
Mr. Luján graduated in 1950 from St. Michael’s College in Santa Fe, where he majored in industry administration.
Whereas in college, he married Jean Kay Couchman, who survives him. As neatly as to his granddaughter Ms. Everett, he’s moreover survived by two daughters, Terra Everett and Barbara Lujan; a son, Robert, who goes by Jeff; two brothers, Edward and George; a sister, Zenaida Padilla; 4 other grandchildren; and 4 big-grandchildren. One other son, Jay, died earlier.
Mr. Luján retired in 1993 after serving as within secretary throughout the one-duration of time Bush presidency. He expressed few regrets about leaving public existence, discovering the political native climate overly contentious after a barely aloof and productive congressional occupation.
At a talk about he gave in Colorado in 2004, he replied jokingly when requested to mirror on his skills making use of the Endangered Species Act. “We’re fortunate we’re in front of a mountainous target audience,” he acknowledged, “as a consequence of I vowed after I left that I became once going to ruin any one who ever talked about the spotted owl.”
He added, “I’ll characterize you very the truth is, I’m completely joyful that I’m not in politics anymore.”