Thursday, November 03, 2005
Bush Administration and Our National Parks
You wouldn't be wrong if you believe that this administration has not met a polluter it does not like. Details about the new rules for off-road vehicles issued by Forest Service Chief Dale N. Bosworth are now available. Report in The Washington Post by Juliet Eilperin reads: "The Bush administration yesterday gave local managers the authority to decide where visitors can use off-road vehicles in national forests, a move that could reshape how Americans experience the country's 155 forests and 20 grasslands." The bottom line is bad news. Bad for the environment, bad for wild life, bad for those who visit the wilderness areas to get away from noise and polluted atomosphere.
Privatization of the parks is the ultimate objective. It is working hard to reach the goal. The point man for the administration is Paul Hoffman, Dy. Assistant Secretary of the Dept. of the Interior. Congressman Richard Pombo (R-CA), chairman of the House Resources Committee is another who supports destruction of the national parks.
Following excerpts are from an editorial in The New York Times on October 21, 2005:
- This new policy document doesn't go as far as the earlier version. But it would eliminate the requirement that only motorized equipment with the least impact should be used in national. It would lower air-quality standards and strip away language about preserving the natural soundscape - language that currently makes it hard, for instance, to justify allowing snowmobiles into Yellowstone. It would also refer park superintendents to other management documents that have been revised to weaken fundamental standards and protections for the parks.
- Mr. Hoffman and National Park Service officials have tried to argue that this new policy revision offers greater clarity. What it really offers is greater flexibility to interpret the rules the way they want to. The thrust of these changes is to diminish the historical, and legally upheld, premise that preservation is the central mission of the park system.
- One of the most troubling aspects of this revised policy is how it was produced. Instead of being shaped by park service professionals thinking in a timely way about how to do their jobs better, this is a defensive document that was rushed forward to head off the more sweeping damage that Mr. Hoffman's first draft threatened to do. It is a tribute to the National Park Service veterans who worked on it that they were able to mitigate so much of the harm, even though they, too, were working directly under Mr. Hoffman's eye. They risked their jobs to protect the parks from political appointees in the Interior Department. This is a measure of how distorted the department's policies have become.
- There is more potential damage on the way. At least two deeply worrying new directives have been handed down. One allows the National Park Service to solicit contributions from individuals and corporations instead of merely accepting them when they're offered. This is another way to further the privatization of the national parks and edge toward their commercialization. Privatizing the government's core responsibilities - like the national parks - is unacceptable, and so is the prospect of any greater commercial presence in the parks."
Bill Moyers, in his essay "Welcome Doomsday" wrote in the Axis of Logic March 23, 2005:
"I read that the administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency has declared the election a mandate for President Bush on the environment. This for an administration:
- that wants to rewrite the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act protecting rare plant and animal species and their habitats, as well as the national Environmental Policy Act that requires the government to judge beforehand if actions might damage natural resources;
- that wants a new international audit law to allow corporations to keep certain information about environmental problems secret from the public;
- that wants to drop all its New-Source Review suits against polluting coal-fired power plans and weaken consent decrees reached earlier with coal companies;
- that wants to open the Arctic Wildlife Refuge to drilling and increase drilling in Padre Island National Seashore, the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world and the last great coastal wild land in America;