No sooner had the Bears Ears National Monument been proclaimed than local Utah politicians launched a concerted effort to undo it. Kirsten Allen and her gang at Torrey House Press have gone to great lengths to help support the making of the Monument and may indeed have played a role in its creation by the President Obama and the Department of the Interior. They created and published Red Rock Testimony and took hundreds of copies to Washington D.C. They simultaneously came out with Edge of Morning, a book of all Native voices in support of the Bears Ears. These are very nice people, why would they promote an outcome that local people don’t want? Continue reading
The BLM has got its tit in a wringer. From an environmental standpoint the BLM is a classic captured agency run locally both by and for ranchers. The agency has long overlooked grazing permit infractions of all sorts. Often outside nongovernmental organizations have to sue to win enforcement of standing laws and regulations. The BLM’s action of enforcement has been so lax that when they do try to enforce a decades old egregious and blatant defiance of U.S. law and multiple court orders, like the unanswered defiance by Cliven Bundy, they are unable to do so. Which opens more than one door in a good news – bad news sort of way.
That bad news is that the government is inviting anarchy. If one guy, like Cliven Bundy with his delusions of grandeur, can defy the government by going loud with right wing media and inviting a bunch of gun toting friends to gather around, why can’t everyone start making up their own laws? Already Utah San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman is rallying a group to flout federal law and ride their ATV’s into a closed canyon next month. Presumably they will take notes from Bundy and bring their guns. Mike Noel, a Utah legislator, did the same in Paria Canyon in 2012 with no repercussions. Yet when environmental activist Tim DeChristopher practiced civil disobedience by waving a bid paddle at what turned out to be an energy auction held illegally by the BLM, he was promptly sentenced to two years in federal prison. Utah’s federal judge Dee Benson did not allow DeChristopher’s motives to be discussed in court, only whether or not he technically broke the law. “Equal Justice Under Law” is engraved on the front of the U.S. Supreme Court building. When special interest groups like livestock and energy producers or rural county commissioners on ATVs can crony up with the federal courts and agencies to manage legal outcomes, we are knocking on the door of fascism.
The good news for the BLM’s tit is that Cliven Bundy appears to be a lunatic to the vast majority of rational Americans. All the media attention on public land grazing abuse will shine some light on BLM practices and might encourage the agency to toe the line and regularly enforce existing regulations. This attention can open the door to a little public awareness to the otherwise boring issue of public land management, particularly the damage done by livestock grazing and the irony that this grazing would largely come to and end if it were not subsidized and/or if ranchers were permitted to sell and thereby retire their permits.
It will be up to non-governmental organizations and writers alike to go through the good news door. I’ll see what we can do at Torrey House Press with some appropriate Green Shorts.
In response to an article in the Salt Lake Tribune announcing that Utah State Engineer Kent Jones OK’d the use of Green River water to cool a proposed nuclear reactor, Ed Firmage Jr. posted a polished reply. Water management in Utah is an area much in need of watch dogging. Mike Noel makes a living by exercising a powerful conflict of interest in the government positions he holds. It’s how welfare ranching works and just like Bernard DeVoto called it 65 years ago: “Give me the money, now get out of here.” Berate the federal government while taking finagled federal hand outs. Not much has changed. Noel has a seat on the Utah State Legislature and is the executive director of the Kane County Water Conservancy District, both government jobs. Now he is concocting a boondoggle to sell Kane County water rights to a nuclear reactor which he will use his position as state legislator to support. Here’s Ed’s response:
Let me see if I got this right:
A former two-bit Viagra salesman, Aaron Tilton, who was GIVEN (not elected) to a term in the state senate and who promptly lost his first attempt to be ELECTED to office (even Utah voters have standards), teams up with former legislative buddy, welfare rancher, and general good old boy Mike Noel, who makes his living railing against federal subsidies (except his own), and they concoct a plan for a federally subsidized nuclear reactor (all nuclear reactors are federally subsidized) in the middle of the howling Utah desert with water from an oversubscribed and climate-threatened river–in other words, using water for speculative gain, a practice prohibited by Utah law–and this Rube Goldberg scheme is OKd by the only representative of the Utah public who will have a say in this decision, Utah’s water “engineer,” Kent Jones, who opines, in either ignorance or denial of Wall St., that building a nuclear power plant, and that in a desert, isn’t a speculative venture and a therefore illegal use of Utah water.
I guess I must be in Utah, for by comparison, the story of the golden plates sounds perfectly plausible.
Ed’s last sentence is regrettably uncivil, but his calling the crony good old boys on their crap is a civil service. Go Ed.