Democratic Underground

Guilty of Crimes Against the Planet
July 25, 2001
by Steve Collins

Guilty of Crimes Against the Planet

As the days have turned to months this "administration" has compiled a devastating record on the environment. The American public is not happy and a majority clearly disapproves of their policies. There is a growing realization that this "administration" represents corporations over people. Quid pro quo and the payback of political donors are a big factor behind this pResident's motives and decisions, but I'm afraid this only tells part of the story. Their appalling record leads me to level a rather damning charge against this "administration" - they have mounted a planned attack on planet Earth.

Exhibit A consists of the horrendous list of nominees that they have chosen to be our environmental "caretakers". I will never forget what I was doing when I heard of the nomination of Gale Norton to head the Department of Interior. The chilling reality sunk in when I reviewed her background. They chose a person who had devoted most of her career to the gutting of our most cherished environmental laws. The Endangered Species Act is one of her favorite targets. This James Watts protégé would like to sell off our Nation's wild habitats to private interests and open up the rest to corporate exploitation. She once openly defended the "right" of property owners to pollute.

The pick of J. Steven Griles to be her deputy is equally odious. His stint as the head of the Office of Surface Mining led to a gutting of that department and it's enforcement of the law. This lifetime mining lobbyist has also spent most of his career pushing offshore oil drilling. If that wasn't enough, Secretary Norton has named the head of Arctic Power to be her special advisor to Alaska. Camden Toohey headed this consortium of Big Oil companies whose sole purpose is the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. Her other choice, Drue Pearce, was one of Big Oil's biggest backers in the Alaska Senate.

Rounding out our "moderate" choices is Mark Rey, a top lobbyist for the timber industry, to become the USDA Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment. This position oversees the Forest Service and land conservation programs. So many people hostile to the environment chosen to oversee it. This is more than a mere coincidence; the administration had to dig deep to dredge up this crew.

The National Academy of Scientists and dozens of other groups have studied environmental problems for years. Years of work on global warming and the health effects of arsenic in drinking water were thrown out the window by this administration. I guess they plan to study the issues further until they get the results they like. Corporate "science" states that there is no link between arsenic in drinking water and cancer, no link between CO2 emissions and global warming. These assumptions have been repeatedly accepted as "fact" by this pResident. How else can you explain the idea of spending hundreds of billions of dollars on a missile defense plan that has never been scientifically proven to work, while ignoring the evidence of catastrophic global warming? This hostility to reason and real science is Exhibit B.

Listening to Bush on the campaign trail, he talked about supporting environmental initiatives that encouraged voluntary actions by private citizens and business. The fact that this administration really doesn't even support THIS constitutes Exhibit C. The budget proposed by Bush guts many programs that reward farmers for protecting and preserving habitat and wetlands. Cuts in the Conservation Reserve Program, Wetland Reserve Program, and Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program reveal that they oppose even programs that encourage private citizens to do the right thing. The most glaring example of this is the dismantling of the plan to reintroduce the grizzly bear to the Northern Rockies. This recovery plan was in the works for years and was supported by the people of the area. The plan would have been managed by local citizenry, environmental groups, and timber companies. It was flexible and held Federal involvement to a minimum, but even this wasn't good enough. The administration's opposition begs the question, is there ANY plan that protects wild creatures and their habitats that they would support?

Whenever an environmental initiative is proposed, you can always count on the conservatives to roll out the old argument that it violates "property rights" or "state's rights". These supposedly bedrock principals of the political right are used to oppose the ESA and habitat preservation at every turn. The reality is this "administration" does not really believe in these principals. They are used as clubs to attempt to smash common sense laws that protect the environment. When these principals stand in the way of their agenda they become very disposable.

The push to drill for oil in the Great Lakes and coastal Florida is heavily opposed by those States. The State of Nevada is very much against the Yucca nuclear waste dump, but no worry; the administration is hell-bent on pushing these things anyway. Their proposal to allow power companies the power of "eminent domain" will legalize land grabs to facilitate the building of transmission lines. Exhibit D is the abandonment of "fundamental conservative principals" whenever they stand in the way of their agenda.

Exhibit E is a stunning collection of broken promises and bait and switch tactics. Promises to cut Carbon Dioxide emissions from power plants were broken when they faced pressure from their corporate donors. A campaign promise to fund rainforest conservation was broken for unknown reasons. They are creating a long record of saying they will do one thing while doing the exact opposite behind the People's back. The quiet dismantling of the Roadless Forest Rules are a prime example of this. The public was told they would uphold the Rules, but they failing to defend it in court. Meanwhile a strong effort was made to cut the heart out of the Roadless initiative and open these wilderness areas up to extractive industries. This bait and switch policy was repeated with the proposed ban on jetskis and snowmobiles in National Parks. The "administration" publicly stated that they would support this ban, but quietly reversed themselves when faced with opposition from the fairly impotent snowmobile lobby. This shows that they will cave on ANY pro-environmental regulation when told to. Any anti-environmental lobby, no matter how small, will get their wish.

The attempt to subvert the will of the People and silence public input on environmental policy is Exhibit F. The pResident proposed a restructuring of how Endangered Species are listed under the ESA. Their idea was to eliminate the ability of the People to have a say on this issue and place sole jurisdiction over this issue with his Secretary of Interior, a sworn enemy of the Endangered Species Act.

President Clinton's Roadless Rules were not rushed through, as the extreme right would tell you, but were years in the making. Over 600 public meetings were held on the subject and over 1.6 million comments from the public were received (mostly in favor). Apparently this was not good enough for the administration, as a new comment period has begun, this time for only about two months. We've all known that what a majority of the American People want is unimportant to this pResident and this is a glaring example of it.

Presented with this growing body of evidence against this administration, it is hard to believe that a reasonable jury would not find them guilty of high crimes against the Planet. Guilty of planning and executing a war against the Earth.

Printer-friendly version
Tell a friend about this article Tell a friend about this article
Discuss this article
Want to write for Democratic Underground? Click here.

View All Articles