Saturday, February 4, 2017

The assault on public lands has begun - we must fight back!

Our public lands now face the greatest threat to their very existence since the founding of their various designations and the agencies created to oversee them. They are often and aptly termed “America’s Best Idea”, but unfortunately even our sacred wild places are not off limits to those who have been consumed by greed and who now squat in our nation's capitol. House Bill 621 would sell off 3.3 million acres of public land that its instigator, Jason Chaffetz of Utah claims  “serve no purpose for taxpayers”. This is a blatant lie - all public land has enormous value to taxpayers! Even if it goes entirely unused by anyone it has immense value to taxpayers in that it supports ecosystems that benefit us indirectly. The real reason they want to sell our land is so that their buddies in extractive industries can profit from it. Fortunately, this bill  was dropped on Wednesday, but there is other devious legislation waiting in the wings.

To understand how Republicans can behave in such shockingly corrupt and moraless ways, we must understand that they are Kleptocrats. Kleptocracy is defined by the Merriam - Webster dictionary as:

government by those who seek chiefly status and personal gain at the expense of the governed”

This defines to an alarming degree the politicians who would steal away our public lands (as well as so much more) to make a quick buck. They only care about their constituents’ needs so long as those needs coincide with opportunities to increase their own power and personal wealth. If their avaricious quest clashes with the good of the people they supposedly represent, they will lie and spread propaganda so that their followers will continue to follow them loyally even as these vampiric tyrants suck the blood from their veins.

Speaking of sucking, that’s what the despicable representative Paul Gosar from Arizona wants to do to oil in our National Parks! H.J. Res. 46 would pave the way for drilling in our most treasured natural areas. I don’t think I need to explain further why this should be vehemently opposed!

We have to act fast - Representative Liz Cheney introduced H.J. Res 44 to limit our freedom of speech by repealing updated BLM planning regulations put in place by the Obama administration that were designed to allow the public greater input on management decisions.

Cheney also apparently hates Rangers and wants to make it impossible to do their jobs - her bill, H.R. 622 would take away the Forest Service and BLM’s ability to enforce laws, and instead give money to states for law enforcement on federal lands. This is likely an attempt to pander to radical right wing terrorist groups such as the Bundys and their supporters who want to steal our public lands by force. We must keep Congress from taking away the ability of the stewards of our public lands to do their jobs.

As of this writing there is one other bill currently in need of quashing: H.R. 232 (introduced by Representative Don Young of Alaska) would transfer federal lands to the states. On the surface you might think this isn’t as bad as selling off public land entirely, but consider the following: #1. States can more easily sell public land than the federal government. The republicans could use H.R. 232 as a sneaky way of selling land that might avoid a massive public outcry. #2. State management of land is inconsistent at best. Even in states that are environmentally conscious we see a huge discrepancy between state and federal management. For example, State Forests in Washington and Oregon are essentially commercial timberland. These clear cut riddled landscapes are what I have long called the Green Desert - one of the most biodiverse regions in the world reduced by tree farming to relatively lifeless monocultures. Though management has recently improved, there is a stark contrast between state land and better managed federal land!

Again, this just scratches the surface of the devious plots of the right wing. Keep your eyes peeled for more! Be sure to write and call your representatives to let them know that you love our public lands and can not stand to lose any of them or see them degraded by extractive industries. Remember that your voice means something - even the most corrupt politician must reluctantly bend to public opinion if enough people make a big enough noise!

Don't know who your elected officials are or how to contact them? Go here to to find out!