James Watt, sharp-tongued interior secretary under Reagan, dies at 85

James Watt, the controversial pro-development interior secretary under President Ronald Reagan, has died aged 85.

Legacy: Watt was known for his aggressive approach in granting oil, gas, and coal leases on public land, as well as increasing offshore drilling and limiting the expansion of national parks and monuments.
* He tripled the amount of onshore land being leased for oil and gas exploration and doubled the acreage leased for geothermal resources.
* His efforts in utilizing natural resources led him to claim that America was stronger.

Controversial figure: Watt was often criticized by environmentalists and offended various groups, including fans of the Beach Boys when he attempted to ban their music from Fourth of July festivities.
* The Sierra Club collected over 1 million signatures in 1981 seeking his ouster due to his policies on public land and environmental regulations.

Later years: After leaving the Reagan administration, Watt worked as a consultant, represented Indian tribes, and worked in federal housing, which led to a scandal involving the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

View original article on NPR

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