Norton land deal subject of dispute
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An independent federal agency that investigates whistle blower complaints has ordered Secretary of Interior Gale Norton to report on alleged abuse of authority involving a controversial land swap.

A political appointee at the Bureau of Land Management approved an exchange of 135,000 acres of federal land for 108,000 acres of land in Utah. The deal was valued at $35 million.

But BLM appraisers said the federal land was worth $97 million to $117 million more than the state land. The area contains valuable oil, gas, coal, tar sands and oil shale deposits.

The Office of Special Counsel has concluded there was "substantial likelihood" that Terry Catlin, the BLM official, abused her authority. Catlin denis any wrongdoing and expects to be vindicated of any charges, she has told two newspapers.

Get the Story:
Norton Ordered to Probe Utah Land Swap (The Washington Post 10/1)
Land Swap Probe Ordered (The Salt Lake Tribune 10/1)

Related Stories:
DOI approved $100M land 'giveaway' (8/19)