Republicans- How they have sold out our environment and their Soul

by Stephen Capra

For the past few years I have spoken with many good Republican friends who feel as though they have lost the party they once so proudly belonged too. These Republicans I speak of care deeply about issues like wilderness, global climate change and wildlife, but they view it through the prism of being Republican means a far broader interpretation than that of the current Tea Party driven, oil and gas industry controlled party of today.

If you look at their plans should they take control of the Senate, their goal should be called the “Destroy Americans Wildlands and Water Act.” They only seem to see our wildlands as a place of exploitation. Their economic strategy includes getting the Keystone pipeline approved, more drilling and fracking, but removing that silly regulation that somehow tries to protect drinking water,  and of course open up more of our coasts to drilling. Let’s not forget selling off public lands in the West as their means of reducing the deficit. Its pure madness and it’s not that far removed from reality.

To watch the Republican party of 2014, is to witness a party bought and paid for by oil and gas, Koch Brothers, the religious right and the extremism of the Tea Party, which is large corporations, exploiting rural America and people who feel their lives are not working according to their white status, especially because of an African-American President of thought and reason.

Chevron is pumping millions into Senator McConnell of Kentucky’s tight Senate race with the goal of becoming the majority leader in the Senate. Now, let’s be clear, Democrats suffer from some of the same influences brought by lobbyists and the many special interests they represent, however, my focus is conservation and on this issue there is an amazing gulf.

It’s important to look at the interconnectedness of life. How would a party that fights woman’s rights that seemingly want to go to war daily, expand military budgets and subsidies to ranchers along with oil and gas interests. While rabidly fighting health care, how can we expect them to care about conservation? They are not just detached from reality; they have traded their connection to the earth for the madness of perceived wealth.

Republicans since the Reagan years rarely seem to see a wilderness bill they support. They have become obstructionists to most environmental legislation and only tend to agree if some major pork for their district is attached. They seem to have very little sense of the importance or spiritual renewal that comes with protected land.

The influence of oil and gas interests has lead governors in the southeast to demand the opening of their coasts to drilling. In North Dakota, they are just now discovering the spills, crime, loss of a night sky, and the dangers that come with putting faith in big oil. The “drill baby drill” propaganda that Fox news and many Republicans now proudly speak of has become a point of pride for many Americans.

From this also comes the carefully choreographed messaging about denying Climate Change and the long list of Republicans from oil states that speak out and pushback from sound science in such a pious manner while the planet screams for reason. It is a sickness that permeates this party and we are paying the price in funding to parks, the obsession of spending cuts from a group that gave us the Iraq war and the destruction of our economy.
The same party has leaders like representative Stephen King of Iowa who supports dog fighting and made sure to add an amendment to the Farm bill that removed protections and inspections of farm animals. Perhaps it’s our own Stevan Pearce of New Mexico, (he even spells his name weird) who proudly spoke of selling off public lands to remove our nation’s debt and who has done all he can behind the scene to block Mexican wolf recovery efforts.

It is a tragedy for this country and the world to see the decline of a once great party that has devolved into a tightly controlled group so devoid of feelings, so full of greed and drunk with power, that they would create a world where most of us are numbers and our lands and waters destroyed for the mansion on the hill.

We have become, not a nation of people, but an island of individuals. That sadly works against the shared responsibility of our public lands and waters.

Elections are less than 10 days away. Voting, like land protection, is more difficult than ever for those in states determined to reinstate the poll tax. Meanwhile our parks will absorb another year of cuts, federal agencies that mange lands will also see cuts, but God forbid, a Republican accepts a cut in military spending!

This party must come back to its roots, its origins. The years of Teddy Roosevelt and the magic he inspired. If they will not- then they must be defeated, for all the reasons I mentioned above, but most of all, if we are to protect lands, end our addiction to oil, and live in harmony with wildlife, stopping them is not about politics, but rather survival.
It comes back to morality, the morality reflected in the magic that is our planet. Something the Republican party of 2014 has turned a blind eye to.

3 thoughts on “Republicans- How they have sold out our environment and their Soul

  1. Political Management of Wolves and other Wildlife, Dirty Politics
    Regarding the delisting of wolves and undermining of the ESA, spring of 2011, politically, by a rider attached to a defense appropriation bill, with backroom dark politics involved. It is pointed out that we (wolf conservationists) expect this from republicans but it is extremely disappointing to see from democrats. So, what are we to do? What is the lesser evil? Generally, we currently have trouble with republicans, especially the likes of red state governors and republican state legislatures. It is really not a surprise from blue dog democrats such as Max Baucus and Jon Tester of Montana. They are first of all blue dog, pork barrel politicians playing to a very red, colloquial population. Furthermore, Tester is a farmer, and Baucus is a rancher, then (2011 senator now ambassador. Baucus, I heard, lost a dog to wolves. Wyoming and ID are deep red as is MT. We, wolf conservationists are disappointed in Obama, Dan Ashe of USFWS, Sally Jewell of Interior. Sarah Palin as governor of Alaska (R) was having wolves shot from helicopters to support ungulate populations (redneck mythology). How would things be with McCain-Palin, or Romney-Ryan? Much, much worse! So, we cannot just vote against all these democrats:That would be to cut our nose off to spite them. Answer, we have to, to the extent we can, hold our senators and representatives accountable and let them know how we feel about what they did. Politicians are generally sleazy and will wheel and deal and “:get things done” often without principle. How do you know a politician or lawyer is lying? Their lips are moving. We must keep an eye on them. We should promote the abolishment of the rider congressional tool. It is a way to get things done without public and media scrutiny, a sneaky and sleazy congressional tool of backroom politics. It is generally republicans trying to undermine ESA and EPA and manage threatened or endangered wildlife, especially the predators at the state level which usually results in political management and management by conservative state wildlife agencies and hunters and trappers. State management is a republican mantra whether we are talking wildlife, public lands, national forests or impact of extraction industries; and this mantra is essentially anti-conservation.

  2. GOP, Tea Party Types Pushing for State Control of Public Lands
    Anything the republican party introduces or suggest should be considered absolutely asinine. When they try to round up their little thoughties they are dangerous. Federal .lands are not theirs to take over and manage (give away to extraction industries and grazing and development) since federal land belongs to the people of the United States, not local regions or individual states. Such a proposal is going nowhere and is hot GOP air. The Tea Party types and state parochial, conservative legislatures are short on foresight, lack thinking depth, have wrong-headed ideas about just about anything they almost think about, are on a fact free diet, and it seems that they are so anti-federal government that they are purely destructive. It also seems likely that they serve secret or narrow interests. Many or most of our red state legislatures are such, and wannabe senator, Daines, is such. Transferring public land to state control would be a disaster and the end of most “public” land. The land is USA public land not Montana only or Wyoming only public land despite their deep entitlement thinking. The state cannot even come close to afford managing it much less preserving it, balancing the uses of it with contesting interests and preserve wildlife and preserve it for posterity and public access. It would soon all belong to extraction industries, ranchers, the super rich, developed and inaccessible.The states cannot afford it in any sense of the word. There is no interest if would serve except extraction industries and super rich and development interests. Those calling for would soon be shocked and decrying the results. Much of the extraction industry greed is short-term, think only of the day not tomorrow interests because once it is gone, it is gone. Cut down the trees, denude the forests, take out the oil and gas and minerals, take all the wildlife habitat, kill off all the wildlife, graze the last blade of grass, then what?, build condos and high end estates? The federal government is already allowing the states 23,000 grazing permits at $1.35 per animal unit per month on public land in 16 western states, 772 on national forests and 3776 on BLM land in Montana alone, plus oil and gas leases, and otherwise pushing wildlife off the land. What would be the bottom line decision every time wildlife and wildlife habitat conflicted with monied interests of the groups mentioned, not hard to guess that ranchers and extraction industries would have their way even more than they do now. Republican ideas are short-sighted mindless, asinine greed. When they start thinking, rounding up those little toughties, get them a chair so they can sit down and not hurt themselves.

    In summary federal land belongs to the people of the USA, not to local states or regions or localities or conservative state legislators, and the land use is of significant importance to all, not just localities, individual states or regions. State ownership or management would not resolve conflict issues which both the BLM and USFS, tries to balance and resolve. If the states controlled public land, the conflicts would just be transferred to state capitals. The federal government does and always did have authority over federal public lands.

  3. Wild and Public Lands Never Ending Encroachment
    State or worse yet, local management of public lands would be the end of public lands. The federal government subsidizes the states such as ranchers and extraction industries in ways the states could not even begin to afford to continue. Federal management is bad enough. The states would soon turn it all over to ranching, oil and gas and the very rich. The voices clamoring the loudest for state control for public land would soon be the ones screaming what happened to all the public land. The feds (BLM and national forests) attempt to balance competing interests for public land and still do a minimalist job of protecting wilderness and wildlife, but fail in many ways, giving into ranching and grazing and oil and gas and development and anti-wildlife forces, but the states would be worse. Those clamoring for state management keep forgetting or ignoring the fact that federal land is the land of all the people of the USA, not local land. Instead of state control we should be going in the opposite directions, turning public lands back to wildlife and wilderness. An example is wild horses.The problem is not too many wild horses on public land. It is that ranchers and BLM are taking public land from wild horses and permitting it to ranchers. It is an unholy alliance of greed, encroachment, aided by a public service agency (BLM). Wild horses are grazing public land and ranchers and BLM have a greedy eye for further encroachment: There are 23,000 permits for grazing on public land, national forests and BLM land, in 16 western states at $1.35 per animal unit per month. The number of cattle versus wild horses on public land is 50:1; 5 of 18 wild horses are stockpiled in government facilities; 270,000 wild horses have been removed from public land since 1971; 22.2 million acres of wild horse/burro land has been removed since 1971; 70% of wild horse herds have been reduced below genetic viability levels. The real problem is that BLM is giving away public land, wild horse and wild burro land, and other wild lands to leases. The major factor in loss of wildlife is loss of habitat. There is a viable answer: Reverse rancher, extraction industries, development encroachment on public land, on the wild; retire those allotments and stop any more, protect the wild and wildlife from ranchers, and a western mindset of entitlement thinking with regard to public land and encroachment. If public land is going to be put up for ranching and extraction industries, why not offer the same permits to wildlife conservation agencies to set aside for wildlife? Why should ranchers be subsidized at the expense of wildlife? It is a myth, demagoguery myth that the Forest Service is failing to meet the allowance of the timber companies logging requirements. The Forest Service met the goals, northern region, which includes Montana, last year of 280 million board feet. It is a demagoguery myth that Equal Access to Justice Act need to be abolished because it stands in the way of jobs and progress. The EAJA allows conservation groups to sue the government when the government is failing to do it’s job and it is successful 85% of the time.

    The emphasis on public land should be preserving it as public land and on wildlife and wilderness conservation, not playing to hunters and fishermen so much although there is some alignment here with conservationists and sporting groups. There is only 2.6% of true wilderness left in the lower 48 with another 2.5% in Alaska, although it looks like there is more. Montana has 3% of the remaining true wilderness, although Montanans think they have the most. California, who Montana colloquials love to malign, actually has almost 5 times more than Montana. In any case, a line needs to be drawn to protect what is left for wildlife, recreation in the wild and not so wild other public lands. GOP, conservative legislatures, ranchers, extraction industries, development interests cannot wait to exploit the rest, and destroy it as they always have across the centuries. If we turn public lands over to local, political decisions, it will soon be gone. It is a myth that states and localities can better manage public lands, but they can better exploit it to non-existence. Beware the demagoguery politician.

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