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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Planet Under Attack

Our American wilderness and the animals that live there are under attack by the  Republican administration led by Donald Trump and his billionaire cronies.

Consider these facts:
  • The secretary of the Environmental Protection Agency has in the past filed 14 lawsuits against the EPA. Republicans would love to eliminate this agency entirely, and its programs to protect the environment.

  • Some 225 members of the US House of Representatives have voted to overturn a federal law developed over many years by professional wildlife managers at the US Fish and Wildlife Service. This legislation, if passed by the Senate and signed by Trump, will permit the killing of wolf pups in their dens, the killing of hibernating bears, using aircraft to spot bears so killers on the ground can slaughter them, and trapping grizzly and black bears with steel-jawed leghold traps, a barbaric practice that has been banned in many progressive countries. Worst of all, this slaughter would be allowed on our national wildlife refuges, specifically the 16 national wildlife refuges in Alaska.

  • US senators from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Wyoming have introduced the War on Wolves Act, a companion bill to legislation introduced in the US House of Representatives that would strip federal protections from wolves and allow trophy hunting and trapping of the species in four states. In addition to the states mentioned above, Michigan would also be included. These states have historically been determined to exterminate wolves through a variety of means.
  • Republicans want to cancel the Clean Power Plan -- the EPA’s program to reduce carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants. Republicans dismiss it as part of former president Obama's so-called “war on coal”.
  • Several members of Congress, led by members from western states, want the federal government to turn large swaths of federal lands over to the states so they can be exploited by mining, timber and oil companies.
  • Trump has already approved the Keystone XL pipeline.

  • A bill recently proposed by Republican Congressman Paul Gosar would eliminate regulations related to oil and gas drilling, including fracking, in America's national parks. Under the proposed law, companies would not be held accountable for leaks and spills, and could build roads through national parks to reach drilling sites. 
  • Trump has directed the Interior Department to "review" the past 21 years of federal monument designations. Ryan Zinke, secretary of the department, has said that he will review whether monument designation of up to 40 sites should be "rescinded, resized or modified in order to better benefit our public lands."  A particular focus of Republicans' ire is the Obama-designated 1.3 million acre Bears Ears National Monument. And let us be clear -- this review is not about better benefit to public lands. It is about better benefiting oil and gas companies, timber companies and other businesses that see these protected areas as sources of huge profits.
  • Trump plans to sign an executive order to allow increased oil drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans. 

Republicans see no value other than financial in our public lands, monuments, forests, national parks and wildlife. If it can't be exploited, it has no value to them. Republicans are threatening to eliminate the Endangered Species Act. They want to remove protections that help keep our waters and air from being polluted. Predators such as wolves and bears will face even more threats to their survival. 

Several environmental groups are gearing up to file lawsuits in federal court if any of these anti-environment measures passes. Millions of Americans are appalled by these abhorrent threats to our planet. We will not stand by quietly and let the Republican party destroy our planet. This is the only home we humans have. Will we let greed and ignorance destroy it. Is this the legacy we want to leave for future generations?

A German friend recently asked why Americans don't do something about the Trump administration's attacks on the environment, wildlife, women's and gay rights, healthcare  and many other areas. The question many are asking is "What can we do to stop this insanity?" 

Trump is busily working to eradicate Obama's legacy of environmental protections. Never in recent history have we had such a hate-filled, incompetent president. Millions of us don't like the direction this country is heading, but we feel powerless to force it to change direction. Most of us are not rabid 'tree huggers.' But we are concerned about our planet. We do see value in open space, in wilderness, in wildlife. In a system that awards the highest office in the land not to the person who garners the most popular votes but who wins the antiquated Electoral College, it seems that we are screwed. Our voices are not being heard.