Wednesday, August 29, 2007

King by Caveat

The Bush administration, rudderless and without support in Congress, is doing what it can to govern by King’s caveat.

And that’s not too hard for a group which issues executive orders that skirt the boundaries of legality and challenge activist groups to sue them if they want a change.

What they’ve cooked up now, with connivance from the recently appointed director for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), is a “final rule,” permitting that entity to implement the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) a new way.

NEPA, by the way, is a crucial law that almost always comes up when the government decides it wants to do something on public lands.

Typically, the public comment process required under the law reveals negative impacts of a proposed project on the environment or on federally listed endangered species.

And that, in turn, leads to a number of years’ delay while environmental impact statements are drafted and the lawsuits by environmentalists challenging those studies are sorted out.

It’s a pain in the neck for business people, but it tends to work for the trees and the birds, bugs, and gray wolves, which is what the act’s drafters had in mind. It’s a kind of “look before you leap” law.

Of course, governments in the era of globalization exist to serve the globalizers, as opposed to the globalized and so these laws are considered troublesome and expensive to business precisely because THEY WORK.

In China, the government doesn’t protect its people or environment, which is why it has become both the world’s factory and dumping ground.

Read the special report by the “New York Times” called “Choking on Growth,” to learn how that’s working out.

Here at home, in the soft dictatorship, the “final rule” permits the administration to green light projects, “without conducting environmental assessments or environmental impact statements,” according to the Society of Environmental Journalists (of which the scribe is a proud member).

There are a number of projects that could now be given a free environmental pass including those involving grazing on federal lands, oil, gas, and geothermal industry vehicles rooting around for new resources, crushing desert tortoises or the habitat of the Least Bell’s Vireo (a bird) in their greedy rumblings.

Above is a photo (by Kevin Walker) of what the scribe is talking about. And here are some more images of industry destruction, compliments of The Wilderness Society, on land that belongs to all of us.

Logging, whereby corporations go in and make big money on behalf of the few by harvesting what belongs to the many, is going to be a winner.

That industry has fought tooth and nail, sometimes successfully, and other times not (the cases we’re concerned with here) to build roads accessing old growth and virgin forests.

Now that won’t be so hard because the new rule will limit challenges to proposed pathways and because, get this, BLM will not be required to notify the public when “an exclusion” is granted.

the highway scribe has to tread carefully and ensure the contents of this blog don't compromise his paying work, which is often in the environmental area. So let's be clear, the issue here is not environmentalists and corporations and the battles they wage.

Often enough, the scribe sees the industry side on a specific issue and that's easy to do when all the evidence on all sides is spread out and on view.

Environmentalists are an unbending lot and oft-times would like to return the world to a time it is no longer possible to recall. Some corporations exploit while others are stewards and good citizens.

But we're talking about limiting the process for generating evidence and limiting the ability of reporters to get what they must in drafting knowledgeable pieces for the public to consume.

The point here is that, clearly, this is not your daddy’s democracy.

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