American Elephants

Locking Up Public Lands — From the Public. by The Elephant's Child

The Obama administration has issued a directive designed to preserve more public lands as  wilderness.  Ranchers, sportsmen, utilities and ordinary folks are up in arms, with good reason.   The regulatory change, initiated in December,  directs the Bureau of Land Management to survey its vast holdings that stretch between Alaska, Arizona, California and Colorado, in search of “unspoiled back country.  The agency can then designate these tracts — potentially millions of acres — as “wild lands.”

The Interior Department proposes that such lands will be shielded from activities that might disrupt habitat or destroy the solitude of the wild.  That might mean banning oil drilling, uranium mining, or cattle grazing in some area.  It could also mean restriction on recreational activities like snowmobiling or biking.

“Americans love the wild places where they hunt, fish, hike and get away from it all, and they expect these lands to be protected wisely on their behalf,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in announcing the policy shift late last week.  The move does not require legislative approval.

There is nothing like a bunch of bureaucrats sitting in their Washington offices locking up a lot of lands they have never seen so that only the few can use them.  The Bureau of Land Management is a pathetically poor steward of public lands now., and the National Park Service — also under the Department of the Interior — doesn’t do very well with the National Parks.  And Mr Salazar’s department has made a mess of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

This is more of  the Obama administration”s payback for support.  The environmental organizations have  been some of his greatest supporters, and the long-term dream of the Greens is to lock up public lands, turn more privately owned lands into public land, and herd the American people into far denser cities, served by transportation corridors between the cities.

We have come a long way from the conservationists who wanted to protect some of our national treasures as national parks, for the benefit of all Americans.  Now you have militant vegetarians, animal-rights fanatics, tree-spikers, ecological terrorists like ELF, and those who would prefer an earth where there are no people.  The gentle area of protecting and appreciating nature and wildlife  has been taken over by radicals and terrorists.  There is very big money in professional environmentalism, and activists have been drawn to it, in large numbers.

The BLM manages about 250 million acres, and protects about 22 million acres as wilderness, I would suggest that “manages” is a far too generous term.  Bureaucrats in Washington decide who can lease a piece of land for what activity, and environmental demands can conflict with each other.  The demands are usually political, and have little to do with environmental care.

The President’s Commission Suggests That Obama Reconsider! by The Elephant's Child

Will the President listen?  His National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling has called on the Obama Administration to take another look at lifting the ban on drilling for certain rigs.  Business Week reported:

The commission wrote to Michael Bromwich, director of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, on Aug. 6, seeking information on the moratorium, according to a letter released today. President Barack Obama suspended drilling in waters deeper than 500 feet though Nov. 30.

Bromwich began a series of public hearings last week with industry people, academic experts and environmentalists.  The National Commission held its first hearing in New Orleans on July 12.  The Commission said their  panel does not have the resources or the ability to evaluate rig safety  or the ability of the industry to respond to future spills.

The Commission, chaired by Florida Senator Bob Graham and former EPA chief William Reilly, said prior to their first hearing that it would not be their charge to ” investigate the rationale, effectiveness or impact of the moratorium.” That was then and this is now.  They must have gotten an earful in the hearings.

It will be extremely interesting to see whether or not the President takes the Commission he appointed seriously.

ADDENDUM: I didn’t know this.  The President sent the Surgeon General to the Gulf to educate the public about possible mental-health problems that might arise from the spill. Now the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under Kathleen Sebelius has produced a new guide Tips for Talking To Children & Youth About the Oil Spill Disaster.  I really don’t search the web for things to make fun of the Administration.  They just appear.  How can I ignore them?

Guess Who is Keeping the Border Patrol from Doing Their Job? by The Elephant's Child

On March 27, Arizona rancher Robert Krentz was murdered by an unknown gunman who entered and exited the U.S. illegally in an area where border agents are widely prohibited from using motorized vehicles, constructing roads or installing surveillance structures.

Four Republican congressmen introduced legislation on Wednesday that bans the Interior Department from using environmental regulation to forestall Border Patrol access.  The congressmen say that their bill will address environmental degradation of federal lands and help to close national security gaps along the border.

Securing the borders against illegal entry is a matter of national security, and the illegals who cross the border do considerable damage to the environment as has been shown on videos of the area. Internal documents show that the Interior Department and the U.S. Forest Service have actively prevented Border Patrol agents from securing U.S. borders by requiring Department of Homeland Security officials to complete lengthy environmental analyses, and even blocking agents from entering some areas.

And DHS has paid  the Department of the Interior more than $9 million since 2007 to “mitigate the environmental damage” of protecting the border.  That would be the areas where the Border Patrol is restricted from using motorized vehicles, building roads or installing surveillance.  A 2009 memorandum of agreement agrees that DHS will pay DOI an additional $50 million for mitigation funds, but DOI officials have not revealed how those funds will be used.

This is typical of Big Government.  Congress has passed their regulatory tasks off to governmental agencies, and the right hand seldom knows what the left hand is doing.  Not that Congress does a good job of regulation, but at least there is some oversight, and they are responsible ultimately to the voters.  But government money is easily shuffled around.   If we could track the useless and unnecessary expenditures, hold a lot of official feet to the fire, perhaps tax day wouldn’t be so painful.

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