(Promoted by Colorado Pols)
The Trump War on the Environment continues, with a steady barrage of roll backs, anti-science flak, funding attacks, and rhetorical bombast that threaten our most cherished public lands, bedrock public health protections, and century-old conservation laws. Easing the way for corporate interests to profit from the public lands, the Trump administration at the same time is making it harder for the American public to enjoy them. The Interior Department, we just learned, is planning to hike fees for America’s most iconic public lands—including Rocky Mountain National Park—to $70 for a visit, which the administration denies will cause any hardships. Not for human persons anyhow. A few pennies in added costs for corporate-persons, however, doing business on the public lands is a different matter.
Although no health, safety, or environmental regulation appears safe from the armies of corporate lobbyists and lobbyists-cum-administrators, a particularly fierce animus has been directed to anything with Obama’s name on it. The Clean Power Plan, National Monuments like Bears Ears, and other Obama-era rules aimed at recouping costs for American taxpayers, clamping down on harmful pollution, expanding public involvement, and preventing waste of resources have all been in Trump’s cross-hairs.
Obama Derangement symptoms may be further sign of the psychological rot at the heart of this administration, may reveal the profound, perhaps existential, threat to our Republic the Trump regime poses.
The need to undo a predecessor’s accomplishments does fit in with the behavior of an insecure autocrat. And either by design, or in the vacuum of leadership a naked emperor brings, the administration’s ministries are following suit, ruling by decree.
Consider how the environmental and land agencies are behaving under Trump. The Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Interior, for instance, seem to prefer executive fiat to public process, silence over science, and conflicted interests over competence. Under the Trump regime the media is the enemy and the public interest is elitist.
It all brings with it the appearance of the swampiest of tin-pot dictatorships. Interior Secretary Zinke, it has been revealed, flies his own flag over the Departmental Palace when he is holding court, handing out coins to his admirers. EPA Administrator Pruitt has an around-the-clock security detail and has built himself a private phone booth.
And this royal demeanor extends, many observe, to the actual management of the public’s lands and treasures—the former seems for plunder and the latter for friends.
Take the Bureau of Land Management’s methane rule, put in place by Obama to prevent the waste of a public resource, widely popular, practical, and effective. Thousands of stakeholders across America, including oil and gas companies and some industry groups, agree that this rule is an effective way to reduce methane waste.
Unable to just toss the rule out, and unable even to get an obliquitous and compliant GOP-controlled Congress to override it, now the administration and its ministers at Interior are moving to bury it instead, and to delay implementation for two years.
And make no mistake: any action taken to weaken, delay, or rewrite the BLM methane rule is a direct attack on American taxpayers, on our public lands, and on the public’s health. Every day that the Trump administration delays the rule, it is denying western communities funding: for infrastructure projects, for school improvements, for local hospitals, and for conservation priorities.
And it is not just costing us in the pocketbook. Air pollution harms public health too. Venting, flaring, and leaking natural gas spews toxic pollution into the air—polluting the air our children breathe and causing rates of asthma attacks in children to increase. Tens of thousands of people live near oil and gas development on public lands. Without the BLM methane waste rule, the oil and gas industry would be free to leak methane pollution and toxic chemicals into the air, like an invisible oil spill happening all day every day.
For an administration swept in on the rhetoric of economic populism the Trump administration has shown a reckless disregard for sound stewardship of the public’s resources. From private jets to selfie-coins, this administration has shown disdain for the public interest and a tone-deaf arrogance of privilege. The Trump administration has shown a disregard for environmental and public health, instead going beyond even partisan favoritism to blatant industrial obsequience.
But a backlash is building. Our Republic does not exist so the self-important can pamper themselves with royal trappings, nor to subsidize the already prosperous in their never-ending quest to accumulate ever more private gain. We have, as a nation, deposed one king. If nothing else we must hold this administration to close account, to resist its tyranny over the public interest. We must demand that our shared health and our shared environment be given priority, in support of the fundamental American fact that we are equal citizens and not serfs for the conveniences of industry.
I’m not one for Tiki-torches on parade, and pitchforks belong on the farm. But the time has come to speak up nosily. “Now is the Time,” to paraphrase Patrick Henry, “for All Good Folk to Come to the Aid of their Country.”
In the once-upon-a-time tale of the naked emperor, the spell is broken when a child speaks the obvious and suddenly all can see their king has no clothes. Today the normal channels of recourse are full of obstacles and in disrepair.
Regulations exist in the public interest and for the good of the country. A few may be ill-advised. Some may be outdated. But the BLM methane rule is neither of those things. The BLM methane rule exists to protect the U.S. taxpayer with added benefit for our health and environment.
The BLM methane rule comes at a fraction of the cost for private industries that do business on America’s public lands. The return to the taxpayer is worth it, and sound stewardship of our energy resources is a mandate the BLM should follow.
The BLM methane rule benefits America by preventing waste of valuable energy resources, and saving taxpayers money. The extra penny from each dollar in wealth a company strips from the public’s lands for its own pocket, to pay to protect health, public resources, and taxpayers is not too steep a fee. And since methane is a super-potent greenhouse gas, the BLM rule has a direct climate benefit too. All that adds up to a win for everyone—even wannabe royal ministers gathered around their naked lord.
Edited Saturday afternoon for clarity and to add some additional detail.