"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)
Thursday, September 22, 2005
A bit of background: Since 2000, [Sen. Patty] Murray has pushed for protection of the front range of the Cascades, sharp peaks and deep forested valleys west of Stevens Pass.
She has, with [Rep. Rick] Larsen, fashioned a Wild Sky Wilderness bill. Unlike other such preserves, the 106,000-acre wilderness would extend from rugged peaks down into the lowlands, protecting 20 miles of salmon-spawning streams.
The legislation has won kudos on both sides of the political fence.
Rep. Jennifer Dunn, R-Wash., signed on as co-sponsor. Undersecretary of Agriculture Mark Rey, a former timber lobbyist, said President Bush could sign it into law.
Senate passage has been unanimous, with conservative Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, using Wild Sky as an example of the consultation needed in crafting a wilderness bill.
But in the House, one man -- Pombo -- has worked to see that Wild Sky doesn't see the light of day.
Not content to despoil one small slice of wilderness, however, Pombo has now set his sights much higher - evisceration of the Endangered Species Act:
The bill, written by California Republican Rep. Richard Pombo, aims to realize many of the goals sought by landowners and other critics who say the act is burdensome, bureaucratic and ineffective. They also decry the way the law limits the use of private property.
Democratic lawmakers and environmental groups have blasted the proposal, saying it would dramatically weaken safeguards for the nation's most vulnerable plants and animals.
Salmon returning to Seattle lakes and streams are among the species protected by the law. Resident orcas could be granted protection in December.
Pombo's legislation "is not modernizing the act, it is euthanizing the act," said Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash.
Pombo, an ex-rancher, property rights advocate and chairman of the House Resources Committee, has made reforming the Endangered Species Act one of his missions in Congress.
While the nation has seen advances in science, technology and many other areas, Pombo said methods for protecting vulnerable species are obsolete.
Pombo's bill (which you can read here) would satisfy two of his most pressing goals. In addition to eliminating meaningful protection for threatened species, it would provide a huge cash cow for his friends and funders in the real estate development industry:
When developers want to pursue a project, the government would have 90 days to determine whether it would harm a protected species. If the government determines that it would, it would have to compensate the landowner for the value of the proposed venture.
The proposed development need only be speculative, and there is no limit on the number of times developers can be compensated, Jamie Clark, former director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, told the committee.
"Thus, a developer might propose construction of a shopping center that will wipe out the habitat of an endangered species. Once the developer has been compensated for that use, he or she can propose an office park on the site and become entitled to compensation again," said Clark, now executive vice president of Defenders of Wildlife, an environmental group.
Of course, no Republican horror show would be complete without a supporting cast of quisling Democratic enablers. Among the co-sponsors to Pombo's legislation are five members of the alleged opposition. They are:
Joe Baca (CA - 43)
Marion Berry (AR - 1)
Dennis Cardoza (CA - 18)
Jim Costa (CA - 20)
Mike Ross (AR - 4)
Bennie Thompson (MS - 2)
With friends like these, endangered species need no enemies.