Thirty Five years ago Yesterday, Eco History was turned on its head.
Thirty five years ago yesterday, Pres. Ronald Reagan revealed that his nomination for the Secretary of the Interior Position was to be one James Watt.
Among other things, "after the President, the Secretary of Interior has more power than anyone else in government over the nation's public lands and natural resources. The Secretary of Interior is steward over a quarter of the nation's land area, and 300 million acres on the outer-continental shelf. The Secretary is required by many laws to carefully balance the grazing, timber and mining interests with fish and wildlife conservation, watershed protection, wilderness and recreational needs."
"Watt's positions on virtually every important Interior Department program were well known and documented when he was nominated. As President and chief legal officer of the Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF) Watt initiated many lawsuits to stop or impede federal programs to protect the environment. For example, MSLF 1) tried to block efforts to control overgrazing on public lands; 2) repeatedly sued to stop EPA from controlling air pollution; 3) promoted diversion of water away from Wild Rivers already in danger of drying up; and 4) fought restrictions on oil development in wilderness study areas.' " Source, website and URL http://scorecard.lcv.org/roll-call-vote/1981-13-nomination-james-watt-be-secretary-interior
But what is to be noted as perhaps the most astounding aspect of Watts' nomination is that during the hearings for his Senate confirmation, Watt made a remarkable statement. He insisted to the US Senate that there was no need at all to protect the environment, due to the "fact" that the "Rapture" was due to happen any day now, and that therefore the earth's resources should be offered up for profit, as since after the Rapture no one would need the earth. It stands to follow that if no one was living on the Planet after the Second Coming of Christ then "why not?" became the most sensible policy as far as exploiting the earth. (And it offers up far more immediate profits, besides. What is not to like about this stance!)
After his confirmation was finalized, he immediately put into place insane policies that allowed much of the nation's designated federal lands to be further exploited. And lands owned and overseen by the Native People's were also taken out from under them.
If you have ever wondered why the News Media promotes right wing Christians so much,the doctrine of "The Rapture is Coming, so all available resources might as well be immediately utilized" is most agreeable to Big Industry.
I have been told that no one in the US Senate bothered to set Watt straight as to how:
The Rapture was not then (or ever later on) to be a proven concept, and also, that
all his extreme notions were the stuff of fairy tales. I have not researched whether that is true or not.
But if there was money to be made, I imagine our Senators, always pragmatic, saw no real reason to scream at Watts out loud.
The Interior position just a few days before Christmas. I mean, who pays attention to news items then?