Manuel Luján Jr., Ex-Congressman and Interior Secretary, Dies at 90

Manuel Luján Jr., a vulnerable 10-term Republican congressman from Original Mexico and secretary of the inner, at his house in Albuquerque in 2008.Credit rankingCredit rankingToby Jorrin/Linked Press

Manuel Luján Jr., a vulnerable 10-term Republican congressman from Original Mexico and a secretary of the inner whose efforts to steadiness pattern and conservation of federal lands frequently left him at loggerheads with environmentalists, died on Thursday night at his house in Albuquerque. He modified into as soon as 90.

A granddaughter, Amy Everett, confirmed the death. In a assertion, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of Original Mexico, a Democrat and cousin of his, known as Mr. Luján “the image of a statesman.”

The scion of a wisely-linked Original Mexico household, Mr. Luján mounted his first congressional marketing campaign in 1968 at age forty, unseating the incumbent, Thomas Morris, and turning into the principle Republican congressman from Original Mexico since 1931.

He held that role at all times for the next Two decades despite most important demographic shifts in his constituency.

In his early years in its place of work, Mr. Luján represented a mainly rural district, encompassing quite a lot of Native American territories and orderly undeveloped areas of Northern Original Mexico. He joined the Home Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs in his first term and rose to change into the ranking Republican member by 1981.

In the early Eighties, his district modified into as soon as lowered in dimension to a narrow space spherical Albuquerque. Tailoring his agenda to a extra urban outrageous with evaluate and technology pursuits, just like the Sandia National Laboratory, he joined the Committee on Set of residing, Science and Skills, turning into the ranking Republican in 1987.

Mr. Luján, zero.33 from left, inspecting an oil cleanup on Bare Island, in the Prince William Sound in Alaska, in 1989, his first year as secretary of the inner. Mr. Luján modified into as soon as confronted by the Exxon Valdez oil spill within months of being confirmed.Credit rankingStapleton/Linked Press

On the total described as an even-tempered and vivid public servant, Mr. Luján veritably appreciated local alternate strategies over sweeping federal rules. “To this present day, I don’t deem that we’d like to breeze a rules for all the pieces, for your entire ills that now we possess,” he acknowledged in an interview in 2000. “Matter of reality, I deem that the less rules now we possess, the simpler off we are.”

Bruce F. Vento, a vulnerable congressman from Minnesota, known as him “a realistic guy who operates on the earth of the that which that you just can moreover take into consideration.”

Forward of he may maybe maybe retire in 1988, having made up our minds to forgo an eleventh term, Mr. Luján modified into as soon as nominated by President-elect George H. W. Bush to be his secretary of the inner. He grew to change into the second Hispanic-American to support in a cabinet, following in the footsteps of Lauro F. Cavazos Jr., who had most efficient months earlier change into secretary of training below President Ronald Reagan.

Even supposing Mr. Luján modified into as soon as confirmed unanimously by the Senate in 1989, his hands-off formulation to governance and eagerness to accommodate competing pursuits proved less authorized in the wake of quite a lot of national controversies.

Within months of his affirmation, he modified into as soon as confronted by the Exxon Valdez oil spill, which touched off an environmental crisis in Alaska. Despite the incontrovertible reality that Mr. Luján helped oversee cleanup efforts and negotiate settlements with Exxon, he drew fire for concurrently pushing ahead with proposals to initiating ingredients of California and Florida to offshore drilling.

He modified into as soon as moreover criticized for his skepticism in regards to the Endangered Species Act and his hesitance to expand federal protection to the northern spotted owl, a check case in the greater debate over endangered species.


Mr. Luján with Representative Morris Udall, Democrat of Arizona, in 1988. The 2 worked carefully together on the Home Interior and Insular Affairs Committee, which Mr. Udall led for quite a lot of years. “Mo and I by no formulation had any difficulties as a long way as partisanship modified into as soon as concerned,” Mr. Luján acknowledged.Credit rankingCQ Roll Call, via Linked Press

In 1991, Mr. Luján modified into as soon as half of the so-known as God Squad — a committee of cupboard officials tasked with deciding whether to permit logging in broken-down-recount forests thought to be essential to the owl’s survival.

Angering environmentalists, the committee voted to promote logging rights in some areas whereas placing other tracts off limits. A federal deem later overruled that decision.

Whereas critics complained that Mr. Luján’s policies echoed the helpful-enterprise philosophy of such predecessors as James G. Watt and Donald P. Hodel, each of whom served below Reagan, Mr. Luján modified into as soon as regarded as as extra initiating to compromise.

He modified into as soon as a cease buddy of Morris K. Udall, the liberal Democratic congressman and eminent preservationist, and the two worked carefully together on the Home Interior and Insular Affairs Committee, which Mr. Udall led starting in 1977. “Mo and I by no formulation had any difficulties as a long way as partisanship modified into as soon as concerned,” Mr. Luján acknowledged.

As secretary, he moreover urged President Bush on reversing a substitute of Reagan-technology policies viewed as out of contact with authorized environmental requirements. The current policies included raising the expenses that coal corporations paid to mine on federal land, in addition to these paid by concessionaires in federal parks, with one of the most most income returned to the park machine.

“Interior is sort of a sack plump of cats,” Mr. Luján acknowledged in 1990. “All these quite a lot of pursuits, and also you’re during that sack attempting to buy everyone a long way from one one more.”

José Manuel Luján Jr., one in all nine formative years, modified into as soon as born on Might maybe maybe moreover fair 12, 1928, on a farm by the San Ildefonso Pueblo in Santa Fe County, N.M. His father modified into as soon as the founding father of Manuel Luján Businesses, an insurance company, and modified into as soon as mayor of Santa Fe from 1942 to 1948. His mother, Lorenzita (Romero) Luján, modified into as soon as a trainer and served as Santa Fe County clerk.

Mr. Luján’s household modified into as soon as forced to relocate twice all the intention thru his childhood — first when the federal government enlarged the Native American reservations neighboring their farm, and but again when their house in Los Alamos modified into as soon as displaced by the Original york Mission, which developed the atomic bomb.

He frequently credited these experiences with informing his opinions about federal buy an eye on over public lands, particularly on the problem of safeguarding Native American land rights.

Mr. Luján graduated in 1950 from St. Michael’s College in Santa Fe, the save he majored in enterprise administration.

Whereas in faculty, he married Jean Kay Couchman, who survives him. As well to his granddaughter Ms. Everett, he is 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; four other grandchildren; and Four huge-grandchildren. One other son, Jay, died earlier.

Mr. Luján retired in 1993 after serving as interior secretary all the intention thru the one-term Bush presidency. He expressed few regrets about leaving public lifestyles, discovering the political local climate overly contentious after a rather quiet and productive congressional occupation.

At a talk he gave in Colorado in 2004, he answered jokingly when requested to replicate on his trip applying the Endangered Species Act. “We’re lucky we’re in front of a huge viewers,” he acknowledged, “because I vowed after I left that I modified into as soon as going to raze anybody who ever mentioned the spotted owl.”

He added, “I’ll advise you very really, I’m contented that I’m now not in politics anymore.”

Daniel E. Slotnik contributed reporting.

A version of this text appears in print on

, on Page



of the Original York version

with the headline:

Manuel Luján Jr., Aged Congressman and Interior Secretary, Is Lifeless at 90

. Dispute Reprints | Nowadays’s Paper | Subscribe