Center for Western Priorities: Pushing the Boundaries of Partisan-Hood

 

John Persell raised an interesting question here. It was pretty “out there” for me to say that folks like the Center for Western Priorities are “not of our world”. Certainly I can’t speak for everyone who read on The Smokey Wire.

But most of us have been involved in federal lands issues for years.  When new groups come on the scene, claiming to be non-partisan but funded by the New Venture Fund and staffed by people who worked as political staff for D candidates…er… it does raise some questions.

My experience on the Hill as a staff person, and having briefed many Congressional staff people over the years, is that some are political animals,who may not be as interested in resolving an issue as getting opportunities for their party to look good and win. That’s not to be critical, it’s just their world.  I don’t think anyone who reads what the current Congress is up to, or not up to, would disagree with this. You can’t look to Congress for technical knowledge, accuracy in their statements, nor humility about their own views. That’s not what we select them for.

This is from the Hewlett Foundation’s website:

This renewal grant will continue support for the New Venture Fund’s Center for Western Priorities. The Center is a West-wide communications effort designed to educate the media, public, and decision makers about the impacts of fossil energy development on public lands. The Center builds relationships with reporters, draws from the best polling to craft persuasive messages, rapidly responds to arguments advocating for the elimination of public land protections, steadily generates reports and news, and enlists a broad array of westerners as spokespeople. The Center also works closely with conservation organizations across the West to fill gaps in communications capacities.

Here’s what the Center for Western Priorities says about themselves:

The Center for Western Priorities is a nonpartisan conservation and advocacy organization that serves as a source of accurate information, promotes responsible policies and practices, and ensures accountability at all levels to protect land, water, and communities in the American West.

Based in Denver, Colorado, the Center advances responsible conservation and energy practices in the West. We encourage open, public debate and work to advance those discussions online, in the media, and throughout Western communities by promoting responsible solutions and original research.

Have they changed what they do since their 2015 grant from the Hewlett Foundation? That sounded like a propaganda machine with a certain end in mind. Their own description sounds more like The Smokey Wire.

I do think they do a super job of generating information. I wish The Smokey Wire had those kind of bucks to investigate things, do FOIA’s, hire journalists, develop relationships with reporters, and all that. Nevertheless, we need to ask what kind of slant they put on what they do report, and how careful they are about checking facts that support their narrative. So I think it’s fair to say “communication campaigns run by political operatives” are not the usual federal lands policy suspects. I think of them as newsfeed generators. That’s definitely not like our environmental group friends, who often are seen in the trenches participating in the various policy processes, or even our litigatory environmental group friends, whom I all consider to be “part of our world.”

The New Venture Fund organizations (Center for Western Priorities and the Western Values Project) also came upon the federal lands policy scene recently (since campaign finance reform?) and seem to be mostly about oil and gas (and, of course, denouncing all things Trump Administration.)  One wonders whether their interest in public lands policy will go away in 2020 if a certain event occurs..

36 thoughts on “Center for Western Priorities: Pushing the Boundaries of Partisan-Hood”

  1. The point of this post indicating political motivations behind some new environmentally focused groups is well taken but I’m unsure the post clearly communicates the hazards these groups may pose. Clearly any group working to prevent water and air pollution and for the preservation of our wild lands (especially groups with actual funding) is a good thing. The post points out affiliations with “D” —Democrats??? Yes, I think that’s the word you are looking for—does that in turn mean you worked as a staffer for Republicans? Just asking why the affiliation with Democrats was pointed out as an issue? Are you saying they will try now only to lure voters and then stop post 2020? The thing is, even the Democrats have been upended with people who intend to fight climate change and protect the environment in the process — so these are not transitory issues that will go away—this is a powerful grassroots movement comprised of environmentalists, educators and frankly a lot of parents and grand parents. In other words this isn’t an industry funded or driven thing. I wish the Smokey Wire could afford more journalists as well. Perhaps some may be passionate enough to volunteer? Not trying to be contentious—this post just raised a lot of questions for me and I’m unsure if the reason was miscommunication of it’s intent, bias, or just a bunch of random thoughts thrown out there in a post. Thanks for highlighting the new additions however to the worthy fight of responsible and effective environmental stewardship. It has never been more necessary or critical.

    Reply
    • Terri, sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner. I had a full day on our local Planning Commission so need to get back from the micro to the mega. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

      I worked for Congresswoman Carrie Meek, 18th District Florida, one of the poorest districts in Florida. I picked her because I thought she could use the help (I was part of the Department of Commerce Science and Technology Fellows program) and she wanted someone. As hard as it may be for some to believe, I was her rep on the Democratic Environmental Caucus (1995) as well as the Women’s Caucus and I was the environmental and health (but not Medicare) staff person. Right about then the D’s became the minority and each person had to do many things. It was a totally great experience.

      I want to be very clear here. (1) My concern is that people can’t see the real forest through the partisan trees. I’m not the only person to think that partisanizing climate change has only served to delay action, I’ve read other (published in more reputable places) op-eds on that. Instead of finding the things we agree on and working toward them, some have selected a strategy (say cap’n’trade) and blamed others for not adopting it. The rest of us don’t have to accept that stance as authoritative.

      (2) So much catastrophizing. I don’t see it that way and listening to purveyors of catastrophizing outrages my progressive friends, and alienates my other friends. It does not move us one bit closer to positive action. Some of us have seen R and D admins come and go, and here we are almost ready for 2020, and it doesn’t look like R policy catastrophes are upon us. No ecosystems have unraveled.

      When I attended the WGA conference, I met folks in the trenches of conservation that are making positive impacts. They didn’t spend any time complaining about the Administration, but said basically “how can we move on together in a positive direction for conservation?” “R’s always like public-private partnerships so how can we ride that horse as far as we can?”

      Reply
      • “No ecosystems have unraveled.”

        Many would disagree, or question why we have or should continue to let any ecosystems even get close to the point of unraveling.

        https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-01448-4

        But haven’t you expressed skepticism with the concept of ecosystems? And with the value of native biodiversity? Perhaps I am not recalling correctly.

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        • Thanks for bringing that up, John! You must be thinking of this post from 2013. It is a classic from our sadly brief Book Club experiment.
          https://forestpolicypub.com/2013/09/16/moon-and-the-nautilus-shell-vbc-ii-the-ecosystem-idea-and-oneills-critique/

          And I’m not the only person, here’s a quote from a more credible scientist than I am.. Robert O. Neill. https://www.ornl.gov/our-people/robert-oneill

          “The simple fact is that the ecosystem is not an a posteriori, empirical observation
          about nature. The ecosystem concept is a paradigm (sensu Kuhn 1962), an a priori intellectual structure, a specific way of looking at nature. The paradigm emphasizes and focuses on some properties of nature, while ignoring and de-emphasizing others. After a half century of application, the paradigm is showing some rust. Limitations in the concept are becoming more apparent and leading to a vigorous backlash toward ecosystem concepts in particular, and ecology in general.”

          That’s pretty much the case for biodiversity, too, it’s an abstraction and has many different facets and measurements, not all of which go in the same direction. I value all kinds of diversity, including biodiversity, gender and ethnic diversity and state policy diversity in approaches to conservation.

          Reply
          • If you do not accept ecosystems as useful concepts, why did you use that terminology when you asserted “no ecosystems have unraveled”? It strikes me that if one disputes the value of the ecosystem concept, one is less likely to acknowledge that particular ecosystems are at risk or have unraveled.

            What useful terms better capture the dynamics of biodiversity, soils, hydrology, precipitation, and other factors that combine to create both broad and infinitely nuanced communities of life?

            Similarly, I recall comments from you in the past that when native species become extirpated from certain areas, invasive/exotic species usually fill in with a different type of “biodiversity.” And you seemed fine with that, despite the loss of and/or replacement of native species. Again, it’s difficult to see how you would ever see a catastrophe if you don’t see value in protecting, promoting, or conserving native biodiversity in the first instance.

            Reply
            • Similarly, preservationists don’t see stand-replacing wildfires (which eliminate seed sources, destroy forest structures and severely impact soils, etc) as a “catastrophe”, either, even when it is human-caused. This also reminds me that some people feel that any departure from “natural succession” is a terrible event. With humans as part of the “ecosystem”, whether you accept it or not, impacts and effects are unavoidable, making the idea of “natural succession” much less ‘useful’ or applicable.

              Reply
              • Larry, as you well know, “stand-replacing wildfires” are completely natural, normal, beneficial and even necessary in some forest types. While you claim that “stand-replacing wildfires” “eliminate seed sources” you know full well that stand replacing wildfires actually help create seed sources in some forest ecosystems, such as lodgepole pine, and other tree species with serotinous cones that only open when exposed to extreme temperatures provided by wildfire.

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              • Even as just a sometime reader and commenter here, I’ve seen enough in the comments sections to feel certain there should be an accompanying bingo game. Anytime the term “preservationists” is lobbed would certainly be high up on the list of easily-found bingo-card clues. “Whatever happens” might be a close behind.

                My comments above were not in contemplation of wildfire specifically, but that’s where this has led. I don’t personally have a difficult time reconciling the dynamic nature of natural processes with placing a high value on native biodiversity. So the “preservationist” tag feels old hat.

                Natural fire has been absent from the landscape for many years in many places. That may be why some are more willing to accept its presence now, even if human-caused. That is not to say it is always a good thing or never a bad thing. It does little good to imply most people who you choose to label “preservationists” think so shallowly.

                Reply
                • “Preserving” and “protecting” today’s real-world ecosystems, in their glorious unnatural splendor, while ignoring human realities, just isn’t rational thinking. I’ve seen the effects of drought, bark beetles and wildfires, up close, in multiple States. Some people have this fantasy of “natural fire”, as a panacea for today’s forest problems. That is not ‘objective science’ in this real world. Actual site-specific conditions should be the bigger issue.

                  I’m all for more prescribed fire but, uncontrolled fire isn’t very effective at reducing just the unwanted fuels.

                  Reply
            • John, I think you have hit upon a key difference in language between “people who deal with things” and “people who deal with ideas about things”. My experience with the real world of managing biodiversity (i.e. protecting, promoting, etc.) is that the idea of biodiversity is so broad, and composed of so many different things, measured differently, by different disciplines, that actual management of one element to promote one type can actually have negative impacts on another type of biodiversity. This was our struggle in the science community I think from 1995-2005; I organized and attended more Biodiversity Workshops than you could shake a stick at. It’s a bit like wrestling an opponent you can’t see.

              I absolutely value conserving rare native species (knowing that “rare” and “species” are on a continuum defined by humans). It’s the combo of landscape, species, genetic and so on diversity that is a construct too confusing to mean anything or to be able to “protect.”

              We have only to think of the concept of structural diversity and the need for more early successional habitat in some places, and the question of what species might prefer, or not, the creation of those stands via vegetation treatments, to get a tiny glimpse of how this might play out in on-the-ground kind of management.

              Reply
              • I suppose this circles back to my original question that prompted this post: whose world is “our” world. Your division of people into two groups, “people who deal with things” and “people who deal with ideas about things,” feels a bit too black and white. I accept your experience working for the Forest Service shaped your perspective. I don’t accept that the concepts of ecosystems and biodiversity are meaningless and incompatible with strategies for environmental conservation. But I haven’t worked for an agency like you, so perhaps that relegates me to your “ideas” group.

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                • John, I didn’t say that they are “meaningless and incompatible” – I said that are just ideas about things and not physically real. Thinking about the real world through those filters might be helpful in some situations, not so much in others.

                  I certainly don’t mean to be black and white about it, but I do think that there are differences in people who deal with things (concrete thinkers) and abstract thinkers, and talking across that divide is very important. See this classic from 2010. https://forestpolicypub.com/2010/04/01/talking-across-the-concrete-abstract-divide/
                  Agency folks (including John Rupe, see his comments) are also abstract thinkers, so I don’t think it’s about working for an agency.

                  Reply
  2. This post is timely.
    Years ago I worked as a OHV advocate. One day my phone started ringing. Reporters calling, asking for comments on something a new OHV advocacy group calling themselves Responsible Trails America (RTA) was saying. I’d been working years in the OHV advocacy game and hadn’t heard a word about RTA.

    It didn’t take me 5 minutes using that newfangled google machine to learn RTA was created by grant(s) from Arabella. This was before Eric Kessler’s funding exploded and they spun off New Venture et al.

    My strong suspicion was that the media calling me knew the new OHV advocacy group was a construct. Mostly because when I presented the facts about RTA they weren’t in the least bit curious, nor the least bit interested in the similar stuff other OHV advocacy groups were doing to make our recreation more sustainable and safer.

    Anyway…
    I said the post was timely because the Capital Research Center recently published a look into Arabella. The CRC webpage is here: https://capitalresearch.org/article/crc-exposes-left-wing-dark-money/
    The entire report is here: chrome-extension://oemmndcbldboiebfnladdacbdfmadadm/https://capitalresearch.org/app/uploads/CRC_Arabella-Advisors-Dark-Money.pdf

    BUT WAIT!!!! — Before we all start arguing over which philanthropic organization is the most evil, why don’t we do a bit of collaboration? Let’s see if we can put together a draft grant proposal for Smokey Wire?

    That should be a project we all should be able to support!

    Reply
    • That’s a great idea, Brian! I have been wading through journalism grants and didn’t really find anything for folks in a specialized community with the goal of hearing both “sides”, listening to different voices, and engaging in civil dialogue to understand each other. BUT.. the internet and the world of personal contacts (which I have none) is a big, big world and I can use some help from whomever might volunteer.

      I did try to get an intern from CU journalism, and from the Center for the American West a few years ago. The Center for the American West didn’t work because they didn’t have online internships at the time, and I never heard back from the journalism folks. But I didn’t keep pushing either. But then I couldn’t advise them in developing their journalism skills as I am not a journalist. I’d be interested in ideas and suggestions about that as well.

      Reply
  3. Hi Sharon,

    Aaron Weiss with CWP here. FWIW, while CWP was originally under the NVF/Arabella umbrella, we haven’t been for several years now. We’re a part of Resources Legacy Fund, which has been a great home for a relatively small organization like ours. Since I joined in 2015, we’ve grown into an organization of seven people, and we do pride ourselves on two things above all else — “punching above our weight” when it comes to our impact, and having exceptionally high standards for accuracy.

    Yes, we’re an advocacy group, but we believe the only way to have a lasting impact on public lands policy is by providing accurate information. We’re certainly not a group of political hacks — among our staff, we’ve got folks who’ve worked for DOI, CRS, big green groups, and news organizations. I joined CWP after 14 years as a journalist and news manager, and I wouldn’t be here if my job was to simply spin at the expense of facts. Only two of the seven people here have ever worked in a political capacity for an elected official or agency, and both of them worked for years on public lands issues in those roles. And a whole lot of our messaging—including our entire Winning the West campaign—is focused on the fact that supporting public lands is a winning *bipartisan* issue.

    You’re definitely correct in describing us as a newsfeed — that’s a large part of what we do, from our morning public lands newsletter (subscribe below!) to our podcast (also subscribe!). But the data and research part of what we do is equally important. Under Zinke and Bernhardt, our focus did turn to accountability and ethics much more than it had before. That was by necessity—the lack of transparency from this administration truly is unprecedented, and that’s why we don’t trust Bernhardt. He’s simply not an honest actor here, despite the folksy demeanor.

    Bernhardt is the one who led the attacks on the civil service from the beginning. They’ve forced out folks who have done their jobs under Republican and Democratic administrations because they aren’t “loyal to the flag,” as Zinke put it in a rare moment of candor.

    So that’s where we come from. Everyone reading this, please don’t hesitate to reach out any time you think we’ve gotten something wrong or are missing important context. If you’re ever in Denver, stop by the office and we’ll grab coffee.

    Link-o-rama:
    Look West morning newsletter: http://westernpriorities.org/lookwest/
    Go West, Young Podcast: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/go-west-young-podcast/id1170695833 (or wherever you get your podcasts)
    Westwise blog: https://medium.com/westwise
    Winning the West polling: http://westernpriorities.org/winning-the-west/

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for responding Aaron! I really appreciate it and think that you do a terrific job as a newsfeed.

      I really would like to understand more about your organization. What exactly is the Resources Legacy Fund and what does it do for you? I looked up its website and I couldn’t really figure out what it did. It sounds like donors can donate for projects that are aligned with great things, but why wouldn’t donors just donate to the projects directly?

      Let me explain what I meant about political folks. My experience as a Forest Service employee career was different from folks like Jim Lyons or Mark Rey. Those folks are political appointees and have a certain and important role. In the case of the projects I worked on, those folks would swoop in to give guidance as they should, but not be involved in the day-to-day. I didn’t call them “hacks” but I think it’s safe to say my experience, say with Colorado Roadless, was definitely different from the political folks.

      I got my information from the website and it looks to me like:
      (1) Former state director for Senator Udall
      (2) you, a journalist
      (3) an intern with CRS
      (4) Udall employee and political appointee at Interior
      (5) Sierra Club, vehicle efficiency
      (6) Science camp
      (7) Environmental policy grad from Colorado College

      I see what I would call generalists in the policy world, appropriately so. I myself am a wonk. But it’s a different kettle of fish (so to speak) than being a career employee involved in the nitty gritty, and perhaps most importantly having worked with both R and D politicals. I am so not a media person, but IMHO your messaging that it’s a bipartisan issue might be helped by including people from both parties among your staff.

      See from my experience having worked for R’s and D’s , the lack of transparency is not “unprecedented”. But the question is “why would I believe your groups’ mistrust of Bernhardt when people I know from the Hickenlooper administration (and TRCP) say otherwise?”

      You say that some folks were forced out due to not toeing the line, but I think that may also have happened under the previous administration. How would we know? My experience is that with Civil Service regs that’s actually kind of difficult (other than SES perhaps).

      Just one taste of what I think may be inaccuracies:

      From your April 26 newsfeed. Your quote of the day was “When energy industries profit from public lands, the public should benefit, too.”—Nick Bowlin,” editorial intern at High Country News.

      Now all of you may know that the High Country News is headquartered in Paonia, Colorado so folks there know many things about oil and gas, leasing and royalties. It’s just a quote but.. a simple web search yielded the below info. Clearly folks in your organization know that there are royalties.. so why run this quote? We may disagree about the public benefiting from using oil and gas, from not having to import it from questionable countries, about the tax revenues from workers in the industry, but even using just royalties..

      ONRR disbursed more than $1.78 billion of the FY 2018 energy revenues to 35 states as their cumulative share of revenues collected from oil, gas and mineral production on federal lands within their borders and from offshore oil and gas tracts in federal waters adjacent to their
      shores. The top states receiving FY 2018 revenues were:
      • New Mexico $634.9 million
      • Wyoming $563.9 million
      • Colorado $112.5 million
      • Louisiana $91 million
      • Utah $76 million
      In addition to state disbursements, more than $1 billion was disbursed to American Indian tribes and individual Indian mineral owners; $1.22 billion to the Reclamation Fund; $893 million to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF); over $76 million from Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) revenues to the LWCF; $150 million to the Historic Preservation Fund; and the remaining $3.5 billion to the U.S. Treasury

      https://www.onrr.gov/pdfdocs/20181101.pd

      But I can certainly send them in as I find them! Thanks again for being willing to engage with us.

      Reply
      • Wait, Sharon I may have been confused about your job/background…do you work in the oil and gas industry or as a representative for them or for the GOP? Despite saying your concern is not political — your comments and defense of current policy would lead most people to believe your concern here is entirely political. You also seem to be a climate change denier which is pretty disturbing from anyone remotely associated with actual policy for any public lands. You may have read about the impacts of fracking chemicals, heavy metals into water sources and toxins released into the air from gas burn off of wells? The financial benefits will never outweigh the permanent environmental damage inflicted on our public lands and health impact on humans and wildlife—especially when alternative energy sources are available. You haven’t seen ANY negative impacts from this administration—like opening millions of protected acres and sacred native lands as well as coastal waters mti more drilling? You didn’t see Bears Ears National Monument cut in half, you haven’t seen the sell off of public lands to private industry? You didn’t see trump allow the dumping of industry waste into rivers?? Again, your priorities, in maligning organizations dedicated to preserving the environment seem fraught. The High Country News Quote—like High Country News itself isn’t concerned with the financial pay out of a polluting, limited and archaic energy source —it’s concerned with environmental and health costs that can never be recouped. Public/ Private partnerships are great but the government agencies in charge must have some semblance of ethics. The people who run them should not be the same people who worked for extraction industries that compromise our last wild places. The notion that BLM and Forest Service are run by industry needs to change in a fundamental way. Scientists hired to assess damages should not be prohibited from releasing findings or speaking out. This administration has been a travesty for public lands and that cannot be overstated or called an exaggeration as you seem to have called it. It is what it is and under Trump what the situation is —is good for greedy corporations and devastating for public lands.

        Reply
        • Terri, welcome to The Smokey Wire! Usually we talk about our own experiences and try to get at the different sides of specific issues.

          Your email is kind of a lecture about things you think happened that are a) really bad and b) unusual for an administration. I’ve seen many administrations come and go, and from the long-term perspective it’s an R administration, not The End of the Planet as We Know it.

          Government agencies don’t “have some semblance of ethics”?
          The notion that BLM and FS are run by industry “need to change”? Whose notion? Are they only “run by industry” in R administrations?
          I work for the oil and gas industry and am a “climate denier”?

          If I point out that I see the fingerprints of partisan politics in some coverage or framing of an issue, I am being political?

          Just saying, that’s not the kind of comment we usually get here. And I guess I need to update my Linked-In bio.

          Reply
      • “It’s just a quote but…”

        I don’t think this “quote of the day” a) should be used to gauge the accuracy or integrity of CWP as a source of news and information, or b) is inaccurate.

        The numbers from ONRR do not account for all of the external costs the public bears when it comes to energy extraction from public lands. Air quality impacts on-site and from transportation, short and long-term public health impacts from environmental degradation, water quality/quantity impacts, habitat fragmentation, species mortality and population declines, recreation impacts of many types, quality-of-life impacts to nearby residents, social and economic burdens produced by boom-bust cycles and potential bankruptcies, and law enforcement challenges with drug and sex trafficking that often accompanies fossil fuel booms. If all those externalities could be quantified monetarily, would there still be a net benefit to the public?

        Reply
        • So your argument is that oil and gas, which everyone uses, should be produced in other countries because the costs outweigh the benefits? That would be very hard to tell for a number of reasons. In Colorado, we had a review of health studies published by CDPHE in 2017, that they decided to have peer reviewed and somehow it hasn’t been released, despite the fact the State Legislature took up and finished regulation of oil and gas. So info is not as readily available as one might think. But we could look at Colorado counties based on the initiative in the last election and find that the counties with the most drilling opposed the setbacks the most. So voters think they are getting a good deal.
          Many counties have adapted to boom bust cycles over the years and think that that’s better than a bust bust cycle.

          Finally, as op-ed folks say in my hood, maybe the effects of defending oil interests in the Middle East to secure other sources of oil and gas should be considered? Military operations are very expensive, cost human lives, pollute the environment and cause us to support questionable regimes, which can have unpleasant worldwide impacts.

          Reply
          • Nope, I did not say oil and gas should be produced in other countries. I said I don’t think the “quote of the day” is inaccurate once all external costs of fossil fuels extraction on public land are quantified monetarily.

            Sure, consider the costs of “defending oil interests in the Middle East,” but this is deflection away from my point that there are a great number of costs we experience in our own country from fossil fuel extraction on our public lands that are not accounted for in ONRR revenues. I also do not accept that the only option in the absence of domestic fossil fuels is to solely turn to Middle Eastern or other fossil fuel supplies.

            Reply
          • Sharon, I grew up in the boom/bust town of Grand Junction, Colorado. Your comment that oil/gas towns have “gotten used to” boom bust is not only heavily departed from any fact or logic—it is insulting. On “Black Sunday” when Exxon shut out the lights without warning and left Western Colorado—thousands—thousands went bankrupt, hundreds of businesses closed and thousands more lost their jobs and homes. The same thing happened once again during the recession of 08 to 2016. Grand Junction led by wealthier people who told struggling residents to “just hold on” until oil and gas came back—weren’t the ones losing jobs, homes, schools, cars and security. The arrogance is almost as astounding as the ignorance and lack of empathy. Moab left the boom/bust cycle in the 80’s and never looked back. Maintaining and preserving public lands has nothing to do with catering to for profit companies and CEO’s who live in 70 and 80-thousand square foot homes in Texas. My brother worked in the oil fields, traveled to Pakistan and watched a bus ahead of his blown up. Do you think his employers cared? Do they care about workers exposed to multiple carcinogens? The ones transported to hospitals where even doctors must fight to learn what they were exposed to… you say this forum is for discussion of policy but you were the one who insinuated something nefarious about environmental groups linked to Democrats. You never did expound on what their negative impacts might be regarding protecting the environment. To be clear—I’m an independent and absolutely feel any legislator beholden to any for profit company—Republican or Democrat needs to go. Scientists need to do the work they are trained to do—not be stifled by industries who dislike their conclusions. So, the bigger question is—is the Smokey Wire—just a pro industry group ferreting out ways to oppose those who aim to protect our air, water and wildlife? Because if it’s not I have to say it’s getting pretty hard to tell—almost a bit Smokey.

            Reply
  4. Whatabout every corporate front group out there?
    https://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Portal:Front_groups
    Itself a group having a liberal bias:
    https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/center-for-media-and-democracy/
    But here’s what they say about the New Venture Fund: https://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=New_Venture_Fund

    I think most people would prefer honesty and transparency, and Ds have pushed for changes to promote that, but as long as our system isn’t that, if you don’t use the tools available you lose. So your post is useful towards that larger goal, but you make a curious distinction between “our world” and “their world,” as if we (whomever that is) don’t want to “win.”

    Reply
    • I was seeing “our world” as the world of trees, sage grouse, road prisms, wildfires and so on. Physical things that we observe directly. The endgame is understanding and working through differences to a policy end that solves problems, such that we move on to the next one. Accepting that there are good people on all sides and we can and should work with diverse points of view toward resolving disputes.

      “Their world” is a world of media campaigns, polling, “educating”, attacking people who don’t agree with you, with the endgame that your party will win and all will be unicorns and rainbows. In this world, resolving disputes is bad and continuing them, and even inflaming them through shading and misinforming is good, so that you can point to the “other” as a bad guy and get more votes.

      Yes, that is politics, and politicians ultimately determines policy. But if we can dream of a fossil fuel free world, we can also dream of a more humane politics.

      Reply
      • A desire for “humane” politics would have to apply to all parties. You seem to insinuate only one misinforms and we are reminded daily that—that isn’t the case. I subscribed to this thread because I have a genuine love for and interest in our public lands and the daily practicalities of how they are managed or in some cases mismanaged. I thought people on the ground would offer the best insight. I have worked with numerous National Parks and National Monument staff and am always exceedingly impressed with their knowledge and absolute dedication to preservation despite the notoriously low pay, the inability for many to work year round (seasonal) and the constant migration from one park to the next. I like to think people working for the Forest Service and BLM are equally devoted to protecting these places for future generations. I only responded to your initial post because the tone and insinuations surprised me and I was trying to gain some clarification. I’m sorry but for profit corporations and the legislators they control have only repeatedly proven themselves to be no less than a serious threat to all of us in addition to our public lands and wildlife. Part of the reason National Parks and monuments are our best idea is that they have never been beholden to corporate interests which would have imperiled everything that makes them great—in their never ending quest for profit.

        Reply

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