Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Pombo Deemed "Most Anti-Conservation" Member of Congress

From time to time I’ve called Richard Pombo “the Black Knight of American Environmental Policy.” It’s not just Pombo’s abysmal record on environmental and conservation issues that gives me cause to fault him. Pombo does not simply fail to appreciate the importance of conservation, he seems ideologically opposed to it. That is, he is not simply a contingent anti-conservationist, he’s a dedicated and self-conscious one. Richard Pombo’s Holy Grail is the complete evisceration of all of the important environmental laws that have preserved America’s natural patrimony for generations, and he works towards that goal with a single-mindedness that is as stunning as it is saddening.

Today, BushGreenwatch, a project of Environmental Media Services and, put out an article, copied in full below, labeling Pombo the “most anti-conservation member of Congress.” It’s good to see other important groups come to the same conclusion about Pombo. Now let’s hope that they will back up the rhetoric with time and money.

(Speaking of money, remember that the end year is coming, which means FEC reports will be filed very soon. Most political analysts look at the FEC reports to judge candidate viability, so be sure to give whatever money you can to your favorite candidates before the end of the year. There will not be another filing deadline until the end of March, which means that the next three months of news stories will refer to the fundraising numbers of candidates as of the end of the year. So if you want to ensure your candidate (for almost any race whatsoever) looks strong, it’s important to give something before the filing deadline.)

Here’s the article from BushGreenwatch. Thanks to readers ABea and Nathan Rudy for sending me the link.

Pombo Deemed "Most Anti-Conservation" Member of Congress

When it comes to environmental matters, one of the busiestmembers of Congress this year has been Representative RichardPombo (R-CA), chair of the House Resources Committee.

Unfortunately, say environmentalists, Rep. Pombo's busy-ness hasall been aimed, once again, at undermining or actuallyeviscerating long-established laws that protect America'snatural resources. As Defenders of Wildlife President RodgerSchlickeisen put it last month in an interview with the OaklandTribune, Rep. Pombo is "the most anti-conservation congressmanof the 535 in Congress." [1]

And while Mr. Pombo's wide-ranging agenda achieved only partialsuccess this year (one key initiative fell apart in the face ofpublic outrage), he has made it clear that he will be right backat it when Congress reconvenes in 2006.

That means, among other things, that the Endangered Species Act(ESA), a bedrock of the entire structure of environmentalprotection, is itself endangered once more --the result of 12successive attacks on the law since Pombo was first elected 13years ago. Indeed, this year Pombo finally achieved hiscareer-long goal of passing a revised ESA in the House. The votewas 229-193.

Pombo's re-write would require the government (i.e. taxpayers)to compensate property owners who claim their plans fordeveloping their property are being blocked by requirements ofthe ESA. "What Pombo really wants to protect," said the San JoseMercury News, "is his excessive notion of property-ownerrights." Pombo's ESA, said the editorial, is "an open invitationto dream up developments and get bought out of them atexorbitant prices by taxpayers." [2]

The next round in the battle over the ESA will take place in theSenate, where Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID), has introduced a clone ofthe Pombo bill (S. 2110). The Crapo version would waivefundamental habitat protections, indefinitely delay listing ofendangered species, give industry interests control over therecovery planning process, undermine ESA enforcement, and--as inPombo--compel taxpayers to pay landowners for alleged losses.

The ESA, however, has by no means been Pombo's only priority.This year Pombo also proposed selling federal lands, includinglands in and around national parks--along with the underlyingmineral rights--to mining and timber companies. It would haveallowed anyone to stake a claim and purchase the land, evenwithout proving it contained minerals, and develop into anythingthey wanted, from condos to ski chalets or a mall. A study bythe Environmental Working Group found that this couldpotentially add up to 6 million acres of publicly owned land.

Outrage at the giveaway was so great that Pombo and hiscolleague, Rep. Jim Gibbons (R-Nev.), withdrew the plan. But,warned Gibbons, he will revisit the issue next year.

Not stopping there, Rep. Pombo has also proposed building asix-lane, cars-only, 23-mile freeway in California's CentralValley which would ignore a natural mountain pass and insteadrun straight up Mount Diablo and down the other side--at a costof $10 billion. Despite a storm of regional opposition, Pomboobtained a $7.6 million earmark in last August's transportationbill to study his project.

Critics point out that the new freeway would be just miles froma 205-acre ranch owned by Pombo and his family. Pombo lists thevalue of his share of the ranch at between $250,001 and$500,000. Land speculation near the proposed highway hasalready begun.

It is these and other actions, to be reported in a futurearticle, that earned Rep. Pombo the designation of being chosenby the watchdog group , as one of the 13 most corrupt members of Congress.[3]


[1] "Some Say Pombo is 'Out of Step With Americans'," OaklandTribune, Nov. 8, 2005.

[2] "Earth Needs Protection From Pombo," San Jose Mercury News,Nov. 2, 2005.

[3] Beyond Delay, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics inWashington.


Blogger VPO said...

First, some details in the article are wrong, such as the proposed road going over Mt. Diablo. It is the Diablo Range south of Livermore and Pleasanton, and Mt. Hamilton is the most important peak there.

But, other than that, the question that really bugs me is why are some people like Pombo so vehemently and unreasonably anti-environmental? Does environmentalism represent to them some kind of elitist and liberal cause? Is it that sensitivity to the environment means you have a higher sense of things, that you have an aesthetic of beauty and a sense of wonder about the extraordinary workings of the natural world? Is that it takes a more sophisticated, mature, and smarter person to appreciate nature and look to preserve it?

It seems that Pombo just is incapable of such feelings, operating on a lower level of human consciousness. That he is not smart enough or sophisticated enough to appreciate the world and only seeks to exploit it.

Could it be even darker psychological motivations, such as anger and unfulfilled childhood desires? Books have been written about George W. Bush's psychological issues, such as the need to please his mommy and to compete with his daddy, and stuff like that. It is quite interesting how someone so messed up as Bush could rise to become president. Interesting, but also tragic.

Same with Pombo. Here is a person full of hate and anger about the environment. He is not just against environmentalism, but vehemently against it, to the point where he wants to crush it. His history has been to attack the environmental groups, to attack the laws and regulations, and then to seek to destroy and exploit all the natural world.

He is a true psychopath. That he is head of the House Resources Committee is just about as bad as it gets. It is an enormous tragedy, a terrible mistake, that will do lasting damage to the Earth.

The current government is ruled by extreme ideologues, out to enforce their backwards ideas on the rest of us. Pombo's ideology is similar to many of these far right Republicans. It is not based on reason or enlightenment, not on the advanced of humans, not on the higher value of compassion and sympathy, but on a dark, primitive psychological motivations, an animal mind that represents the worst sort of humanity.

No question, Pombo is out and out evil. He will do more damage to the U.S. than any terrorists ever will.

As fascinating as his perverse and psychotic behavior may be, we need not obsess on what motivates this neantherdal. We just need to get him out of office ASAP.

3:32 PM, December 21, 2005  
Anonymous some guy said...

Although I don't discount that Pombo is a bastard in his own right, this almost seems like a symptom of the increasingly divisive nature of partisan politics. Just as big business is a symbol of the right, environmentalism has become the stereotypical symbol for the left. Opponents throw words out like "hippie" and "bleeding-heart" as a way to remove constructive debate from politics, point being that this makes it all too easy and unfortunately efficient for people like Dick Pombo to rail against.

As we know, stereotypes do get their basis in reality and Pombo certainly seems to be the scary reality that the conservative stereotype comes from. I totally agree that It's hard to comprehend someone being so hard-pressed against something as unthreatening as the environment.

That seems to be the most mind boggling thing about Pombo and the like fighting positive enviro legislation that it is so unthreatening. The environment does not kill babies, encourage violence or endanger national security. It seems that there might be more important things to concentrate on "streamlining" or "making efficient" then the ESA or NEPA.

1:05 PM, December 22, 2005  

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