We grow up discovering there are rules governing how, where and when we should act in certain circumstances. And, when the teen years hit, we question and sometimes challenge or break the rules just to test their strength or to make them justifiable in our lives. Finally as adults, hopefully, we begin to understand the "why" behind most of the social and legal structures put in place to keep mayhem at a minimum.
Humans have come to regard the entire globe as their own turf, while we strut around proclaiming our "dominion over all" attitude. Not surprisingly, however, we don't always agree on how this big ball should roll. "Turf wars," are not just about land and grass. Environmentally they are about every animal, vegetable, mineral, compound, element and molecule on this space rock we're riding. Since we cannot seem to agree on what and how much of the earth's resources we each get to claim, we certainly do not agree on rules for sharing them.
Some synonyms for rules are guidelines, principles, protocols, procedures, codes, and that old political football, regulations. Regulations, the scourge of the current ruling party in Congress, are being tossed out faster during this reign of environmental terror than candy off a Mardi Gras float. And, those with a sweet tooth for having nothing stand in their paths to resources and riches are merrily destroying those bothersome, nattering regs that slow down their RP&P (rape, pillage and plunder) of the planet.
Preserved national monument lands, like Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Utah, are being treated as private resources for extraction industries. The regulation tossers want these open to the same coal and uranium mining, oil drilling, gas fracking, timber logging and grass grazing they were subject to before monument designations. (Go to http://grandcanyontrust.org for take-action items.) To make matters worse, according to the Grand Canyon Trust, the new acting EPA administrator, Andrew Wheeler, "was the principal lobbyist ... on behalf of Energy Fuels Resources Inc., the uranium company that heavily lobbied the Trump administration to reduce the boundaries of the Bears Ears National Monument." Wheeler was also a coal lobbyist and the former chief of staff of Sen. James "Mr. Snowball" Inhofe (R-Okla.), possibly best known as the most outspoken climate change denier in Congress. Inhofe has worked to transfer oil and gas development out of federal and into state control and exempt it from the Endangered Species Act and been a vigorous opponent of the Clean Energy Act. That's no surprise considering he's been on the receiving end of hundreds of thousands of oil and gas industry campaign dollars.
A New York Times article updated on July 6, 2018, titled, "76 Environmental Rules on the Way Out Under Trump," charts the course of what is happening to decades of environmental protections. It reads like a corporate menu of dreams. One of the specialty dishes being served up is the aforementioned Endangered Species Act. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, there are more than 1,000 species that depend on the act for protection. These inconvenient plants and animals and their habitats sometimes get in the way of industrial extractions or commercial developments, causing the RP&P folks headaches amid claims of unrealized financial gains. Now that they have the reins, they're riding hard to shred this act.
The turf wars over the Endangered Species Act are being played out between those who stand to gain in increasingly obscene ways vs. those who are trying to save the turf itself. Playing their hide-and-sneak games, congressional sponsors of destructive provisions to the Endangered Species Act are slipping the controversial legislation in as riders alongside unrelated must-pass topics, such as budget or defense bills. That insidious practice is done all the time, and should be illegal, but it's how they play in D.C. Since its passage in 1973, this act has probably been attacked more than Obamacare, but this time it could crash and hundreds of species once saved from extinction will crash with it.
We need to grow past our wild teen behavior and as adults comprehend that like it or not, all the strands in the rope of life make it strong. Our ratty species is rapidly gnawing away at those strands, and when the rope gets too frayed, it will break. Life on this planet is interconnected and dependent on diversity.
Extinction is forever. Ours will be, too.
Commentary on 08/14/2018
Print Headline: The inconvenience of plants, animals