Sunday, October 24, 2004

Pave The Earth

Why do they hate America so?
Under the Bush administration, 2.6 million acres of Utah land that had been shielded from development was suddenly open for business.

The actions were part of a sweeping policy shift by Secretary of Interior Gale A. Norton with implications far beyond Utah. Not only does the new policy cancel protection of the Utah land, it withholds the interim safeguards traditionally applied to areas with wilderness potential until Congress decides whether to make them part of the national wilderness system.

But what most distinguishes the administration's position is its claim that under applicable law the Interior Department is barred — forever — from identifying and protecting wild land the way it has for nearly 30 years.
Think about that. They weren't satisfied with just gutting current environmental regulations. The Bush Administration clearly wanted to make it harder for any President in the future to protect our environment.
The Bush policy was set forth in the April 2003 settlement of a lawsuit brought by Utah against the Clinton administration. Utah had lost that case in federal appeals court in 1998 but was allowed to file an amended complaint five years later.

The state sought to revoke wilderness protection for the 2.6 million acres. But, with Bush in office, Utah pursued a more ambitious land-use agenda — one shared by like-minded politicians in many Western states. That agenda was spelled out by the state's lead lawyer in a memo shortly before the settlement with the Bush administration.

"We need a clear statement," the lawyer, Connie Brooks, wrote to an Interior Department attorney. "No more wilderness."
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Tom Finger, a BLM wilderness specialist in Utah, characterized the policy change this way: "We went from a capital W to a very small w."

Norton's policy reversal sent shock waves through the world of organized conservation and beyond.

To a lot of people, including many members of Congress, the Bush policy looked like an abdication of a responsibility carried out by every president since Lyndon B. Johnson: to add to America's inventory of wilderness for the sake of wildlife, clean water sources, scientific study and human enjoyment.

Michael Blumm, a professor of environmental law at Lewis & Clark Northwestern School of Law in Portland, Ore., said it was "unparalleled" for a government agency to relinquish "for all time" authority that the agency had previously exerted.

"I think they gave up the store," said University of Kansas law professor George Coggins, the author of two books on public land law.
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Former Clinton administration officials contend that the policy changes reflect more than a difference of opinion over land-management law.

"This settlement reeks of hostility to wilderness, to the whole idea of taking any steps to protect wild land in its natural condition," said John Leshy, the chief lawyer for the Interior Department under Clinton.

Martha Marks, president of REPAmerica, a Republican environmental organization, has also spoken out against the administration's wilderness policies, including the Utah settlement.

"If conservatives don't conserve, who will?"
I firmly believe that the damage done by this Administration has barely been uncovered. For four years they have been giving away the store to their corporate pimps. Only time will tell whether the damage done can be reversed.


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October 7, 2005 at 1:50 AM  

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