Southern Utah- Home of Presidents’ Last Minute Public Lands Gifts

Another piece worth reading by Jim Stiles of the Canyon Country Zephyr. Here’s the link.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell came to Utah to hear both sides of the issue. But PLEASE…let’s be honest. No one thought Jewell would come down on the side of monument opponents. And as the presidential election approached and almost all the pundits were predicting a Hillary landslide of “historic proportions,” Bears Ears National Monument felt like a foregone conclusion. President Obama would make the proclamation, President Clinton would implement it.

Then November 8 happened.

Knowing that a Trump administration would be taking office in January and had already expressed its specific opposition to the monument, would Obama create the monument anyway?

He did. On December 28, the proclamation decreed a 1.35 million acre Bears Ears National Monument.

Stiles then goes back and talks about a Bush administration last-minute group of lease sales in 2008.

“The Salt Lake Tribune noted that: ” DeChristopher won bids on 22,000 acres in Utah’s red rock country, near Arches and Canyonlands national parks.” Environmentalists had accused the Bush administration of trying to ram through the sale of the environmentally sensitive land before President Obama was sworn in.”

Later, in January 2009, as Obama took the oath, environmentalists without exception believed that the new administration should not be bound or conflicted by the “last minute” efforts of the previous administration to impose its will on the next and contrary to the stated environmental objectives of the new Interior Department.

And months later, as expected by everyone, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that, “Obama’s Interior Department eventually ruled that its predecessor had incorrectly administered the lease sale and yanked the parcels off the auction block.”

In 2008, Republicans were doing what they’re philosophically bound to do. In 2016. It was the Democrats playing the exact same strategy, with the shoe on the other foot.

The idea that there is a fundamental difference of opinion as to how public lands should be utilized is no secret. The fact that so many environmentalists are acting shocked and outraged is a tad silly.

Of course they aren’t really shocked- they are telling that story to make political points and attract donations.. to feed political campaigns to elect more friends to get more of what they want next time. I don’t blame them. In fact, I don’t really blame anyone, because the way the world has gone it’s very hard to find both sides of any given story when you are not an expert (except in the areas we cover in this blog). This environment is a petri dish into which partisanites (or partinsanities as I call them) are uniquely adapted to flourish. The secret that partinsanities won’t tell you in their media (and almost all non-local media is theirs nowadays, whether they admit it or not) is that there are many things about public lands that people agree on, and not every idea of the “other” party is bad.

Anyway, Stiles has an interesting take, and what I didn’t understand until now was that both of these last minute deals were in the same area..maybe it’s some kind of revenge scenario for the lease sales of 2009? How did the area become “winner takes all until next election” instead of “let’s work it out?”. I wonder how that dynamic gets started and how it can be turned around.

6 Comments

  1. According to E&E News, the Western Values Project conducted surveys in five GOP-controlled House districts: those of Oregon Rep. Greg Walden, Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera-Beutler, Montana Rep. Greg Gianforte, New Mexico Rep. Steve Pearce, and Colorado Rep. Scott Tipton.

    “Every single poll shows that each member of Congress stands to gain by taking decisive action to protect public lands and national monuments,” WVP Executive Director Chris Saeger said today in a teleconference with reporters.

    The poll uses language that would mislead respondents. For example:

    21. Do you support or oppose new laws that would allow Congress to reduce the size of these two national monuments and remove federal protections on roughly two million acres of land?

    Reducing the size of a monument does remove some rules/regulations, but the land is still federal, and existing “federal protections” would apply. Such as the Northwest Forest Plan in Oregon.

    Western Values Project’s website says it is dedicated to “Setting the record straight if industry and elected officials mislead the public, and championing the folks who work together to ensure there is balance between energy development and conservation.”

  2. Jim Stiles: “The idea that there is a fundamental difference of opinion as to how public lands should be utilized is no secret. The fact that so many environmentalists are acting shocked and outraged is a tad silly.”
    ====

    It’s not just silly, it’s phony and a ploy to energize their following as your follow-up comment suggests. They know full well how the game is played and both sides are the mirror image of each other on this as much as it irritates them to here this.

    Sharon: “Of course they aren’t really shocked- they are telling that story to make political points and attract donations.. to feed political campaigns to elect more friends to get more of what they want next time.”
    ====

    And there you have it, FUNDING is the main motive behind the phony outrage and self-righteous indignation. These organizations lose power if they don’t continually keep their followers stirred up and angry. A person who is contant more than likely will be less willing to fork over more funds for the so-called “good fight.” And it’s all about the love of the fight than love of Nature. I’ve left following these organizations as more and more of their focus has become less about Nature and more and more about political ideology obsessed with worldview promotion. Their hatred of others just keeps growing and that is something I’ve just never observed when I’m out enjoying Nature.

  3. Sharon asks, “How did the area become “winner takes all until next election” instead of “let’s work it out?”. I wonder how that dynamic gets started and how it can be turned around.”

    There is a simple answer. We have built a culture of demagoguery. Unless and until we reverse course, and build a culture of civic responsibility and public discourse as democratic deliberation we will continue our “winner take all” games, and perchance lose our democracy along the way. In Demagoguery and Democracy (a must-read new book) Patricia Roberts-Miller explains how to recognize demagogic culture and begins to help us know how to defeat the disease. Here is a snip from Roberts-Miller’s concluding comments:

    Good disagreements are the bedrock of communities. Good disagreements happen when people with different kinds of expertise and points of view talk and listen to one another, and when we try, honestly and pragmatically, to determine the best course of action for the whole community. Our differences make us stronger. Democracy presumes that we can behave as one community, caring together for our common life, and disagreeing productively and honestly with one another. Demagoguery rejects that pragmatic acceptance and even valuing of disagreement in favor of a world of certainty, purity, and silence of dissent.

    Demagoguery is about saying we are never wrong; they are. If we make a mistake, they are to blame; we are always in touch with what is true and right. There is no such thing as a complicated problem; there are just people trying to complicate things. Even listening to them is a kind of betrayal. All we need to do is what we all know to be the right thing. And it’s very, very pleasurable. It tells us we’re good and they’re bad, that we were right all along, and that we don’t need to think about things carefully or admit we’re uncertain. It provides clarity.

    Democracy is about disagreement, uncertainty, complexity, and making mistakes. It’s about having to listen to arguments you think are obviously completely wrong; it’s about being angry with other people, and their being angry with you. It’s about it all taking much longer to get something passed than you think reasonable, and taking a long time resisting some policy you think is dipshit. Democracy is about having to listen, and compromise, and it’s about being wrong (and admitting it). It’s about guessing—because the world is complicated….

    Democracy is hard; Demagoguery is easy. … (pp. 127-129)

    And Demagoguery is sometimes very, very dangerous!

    • Thanks for that quote, Dave. I think demagoguery is also about accusing the other side of having a hidden agenda instead of accepting their points at face value (such as “more of their focus has become less about Nature and more and more about political ideology obsessed with worldview promotion”).

      • Yes. Roberts-Miller says, “If you choose to argue with people about how they’re arguing, you’ll find yourself talking about fallacious arguments, and being able to name the fallacy is very helpful.”

        This particular one is labeled Motivism, “the fallacy of rejecting someone’s argument on the basis that you assume that they have bad motives, when their motives are irrelevant.” One example is rejecting source references simply because they are out-group sources instead of in-group sources—instead of arguing points, premises, etc. on their face.

  4. Thanks, Dave, for this reference.

    I agree with this, and we could potentially start to do that on this blog (notice when people are doing this). The problem that I’ve seen is that most of this takes patience, and back and forth over a time period, like some of the discussions we have here, and most people get their knowledge from the media, folks who are trying to make a living and can’t do it by hosting thoughtful discussions on immensely complicated and wicked problems.

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