19 October 2004

Shrub vs shrubs

I Live in Minnesota has a good post titled "What's In a Name?" about the Orwellian titles Shrub and co. have given legislation such as the USA Patriot Act, the Clean Skies Initiative, the Healthy Forests Initiative, and now the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 (another corporate subsidy). Of course, this is the same administration that bragged of a novel environmental initiative that would put roads through wilderness areas! As someone who hikes, I know for a fact that you can estimate the distance to the nearest road simply by the amount of trash by the path. Within a mile from the nearest road, you see the discarded styrofoam of cheap ice boxes along with shattered beer bottles. Within the range of a short day hike (4 or 5 miles), you constantly run across Fritos wrappers and plastic coke bottles. But finally after a full day's hike into an area, the trash becomes very sparse. Even the more irresponsible hikers don't feel like lugging massive amounts of plastic to the top of some mountain. Of course if you're Shrub and your sole contact with the world has been coke parties in mansions and sipping cognac in oil company offices, it's probably pretty hard to appreciate the beauty of coastal redwoods and mountain streams and it's nigh impossible to appreciate the perspective of those of us who don't look at the world with dollar signs in our eyes.

Bush Greenwatch (an excellent site!) had the following related article:

Temporary Setback for Bush Plan for Roadbuilding Across Wilderness

The first test of a controversial Bush Administration rule designed to ease highway construction through wilderness areas, national parks, and other protected federal lands suffered an embarrassing setback last week. The rule opens the door for states to claim that long-abandoned trails and paths are under state -- not federal -- jurisdiction, meaning that states could therefore develop them as highways.

It turns out that a "state" roadway, which Utah seeks to take over under the new Interior Department rule, was built in the 1930s by the federal Civilian Conservation Corps for the U.S. Grazing Services.

Until this revelation, the case had been widely regarded as the perfect test for the new "disclaimer" process, which could in effect block wilderness protection and open millions of federal acres to road development, off-road vehicles, and oil and gas exploration. Last January at a news conference announcing the filing of the state's claim, Utah Governor Olene Walker predicted that the return of the 99-mile-long Weiss Highway would have "national significance."

Utah's claim has proved to be considerably off the mark. By reading a widely-available history of Juab County, where the Weiss Highway is located, Kristen Brengel of The Wilderness Society got the first hint of the road's federal history. Her research even turned up the irony that the highway carries the name of the federal employee who supervised its construction-Henry L. Weiss of the Department of the Interior. With notable understatement, Brengel observed that the state of Utah missed "key evidence".

Whatever the fate of this particular bid, the state of Utah intends to pursue at least 10,000 other claims. Alaska is reportedly pursuing at least 2,000 claims, and other western states will make similar bids to obtain ownership of old right-of-ways, which often don't amount to more than old wagon ruts, cow paths, and stream beds.

This surprising discovery in such a high-profile claim underscores the irresponsibility of the rule change-- a prime example of many administration moves to undermine environmental protection quietly but powerfully through changes in arcane rules and regulations.

In this case, the administration resorted to an 1866 mining law -- known as R.S. 2477-- to circumvent the need to prove the validity of a claim in court or undergo environmental review and public participation. The new rule shifts the decision-making from the courts to the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management, and eliminates the public's traditional right to challenge whether a valid right-of-way exists.

Last year more than 80 members of Congress sent a letter to Interior Secretary Gale Norton protesting that the new rule was not only objectionable but "directly contrary to law." Such claims, the letter noted, "are seen by some as the vehicle of choice for those who would bulldoze thousands of miles of new roads across some of the country's most sensitive Federal lands."

Abuddhas memes had the following to say about the environment and how environmental issues will soon constrain the choices of whoever wins:

The schism of the coerced and the clear, each believing the other is the "other", now comes down to the wire. In order to understand the order of the coming Order we need to recognize that regardless of which candidate wins, the fundamental requirements of maintaining an American Lifestyle, far beyond a sustainable Earths' means, will set Kerry or Bush's agenda.

This implies a general steady-as-she-goes policy on just about any issue, but especially energy. Consumed by an energy addiction that directly fuels insane foreign interventions so as to ensure a steady flow of carbonaceous elixirs, America's governing council must float all the dream bubbles it can inflate.

1 comment:

Brian Patton said...

Great post and article. The names Bush has used to title his destructive legislation is not only disrespectful, but spiteful. I think they sit around laughing at all the people they are misleading with the great names they stick on this crap.

Hopefully, after this year, with the proper leadership our country can begin to repair the certain harm Bush has caused to the environment.