Monday, October 31, 2005

Pombo's Extremist Ties

One of the bigger themes I hope to address in this blog is Pombo’s constant, extremist attacks on settled American laws that enjoy widespread, bi-partisan support.  The Endangered Species Act is just one of a large number of laws that Richard Pombo is seeking to undermine for ideological reasons that would immediately marginalize him if he admitted them publicly.          

Many people view Richard Pombo’s attack on environmental law as a manifestation of his close ties to environmentally rapacious industries.  Although this is true, it is also less than the whole story.  

You see, Richard Pombo also has close ties to various extremist right-wing fringe groups that have, shall we say, a rather “novel” view of property rights.  David Neiwert from Orcinus, the blogosphere’s resident expert on these fringe groups, looked at Pombo’s relationship to them earlier this month.  Here is the important nugget from a much longer essay, which I encourage everyone to read (emphasis mine):

Since his election to Congress in 1994, Pombo has been on the leading edge of the right-wing assault on environmental law, and in the process has aligned himself with some of the right's most radical elements. Besides constantly attacking the ESA and "radical environmentalists," he has also been a leading proponent of "takings legislation," a strategy favored by some property-rights advocates that argues for compensation for landowners affected by environmental laws.Tarso Ramos explained the upshot of this activism for Public Eye:

Proponents of takings legislation argue that it will provide relief to small property owners who, they say, are increasingly restricted by wetlands ordinances, growth management laws, and other environmental statutes. Such arguments can be persuasive, since government bureaucracy does sometimes generate burdensome, irrational, and even harmful regulations, and as the relationship between, for example, wetlands protection and the public health is somewhat technical, as well as indirect. However, under regulatory takings doctrine, in order to prohibit industrial polluters from fouling air, land, and water, the public would be required to pay the cost of pollution prevention. This quite direct relationship between regulatory takings law, environmental protections, and the public health is either ignored by proponents or is resolved in the manner suggested by Ron Arnold: if a citizen can show a violation of rights by a corporate polluter or anyone else, let her or him sue.
So-called "Wise Use" groups were especially active on this front -- and one of the foremost of these activists, Chuck Cushman of Battle Ground, Wash., has in the ensuing decade become one of Pombo's closest associates. His American Land Rights Association remains one of the most visible and potent of the "Wise Use" property-rights group.

So every time Richard Pombo comments about property rights or environmental policy, we need to understand what he says in the context of his connections to these fringe groups.  We simply cannot and should not allow him to bolster these types of extremist positions, either rhetorically or in the substantively in the legislation he pushes, without calling him to task for this.  

We should all understand explicitly that fighting Richard Pombo means fighting not just his policies, but the ideology that undergirds his policy.  To that end, we must sift through Pombo’s constant stream of bullshit to educate ourselves about the various code-words Pombo uses to appease his allies in the extreme right-wing and about the real aims behind his words and his actions.  Pombo is much more than a venal politician, and that makes him more dangerous.  So let us educate ourselves about him so that we can more effectively fight him and the extremist agenda he represents.  



Blogger Matt said...

I just realized that a recent New York Times editorial about Pombo mentions these ties. The relevant part reads:

Mr. Pombo, of course, makes no apologies. First elected in 1992 - he was a first-term city councilman in Tracy, Calif., at the time - he is philosophically an outspoken product of the extreme property rights movement. He once liked to claim, falsely as it turned out, that his rights had been trampled by environmentalists and by the provisions of the Endangered Species Act.

9:26 PM, October 31, 2005  
Blogger Dan Spomer said...

From the High Country News, July 25, 2005...

"How will history judge Richard Pombo? The coming months will tell. He could be known as the man who blew apart the nation’s environmental laws, handing the public lands and wildlife to private interests. He could become a man who truly transforms himself, ditching the dogma to find some common ground. Or perhaps he’ll be remembered as a man full of sound and fury who, like a prankster pulling a fire alarm, ultimately signified nothing."

9:16 AM, November 01, 2005  

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