Thursday, March 26, 2009

Some Good News for a Change

Good Morning Readers! I have a rare RAVE to offer this morning as I compliment the Democrats and President Obama on passing the largest expansion of the wilderness system in 15 years. It's the Ominbus Public Land Management Act of 2009, and it's FANTASTIC!

The new law, approved in both the House and Senate and soon to be signed by President Obama, bestows the HIGHEST levels of federal protection to over 2 million acres of federal - relatively unspoiled - land throughout nine western states. It's FANTASTIC news!

The Bush Administration and the Republicans loved to claim environmental credentials while secretly giving mineral/mining, logging and energy development rights to their friends on millions of acres of federal land. They did set land (and sea) aside during their tenure, but they also provided access that led to the destruction of more virgin federal land than any administration in history.

Most environmentalists viewed Bush and the Republicans as the 'slumlords" of federal land policy. They were a disgrace. The environment, like so many issues, is another reason not to trust Republicans with government. The Obama Administration has been quietly reversing some of that damage, or at least trying their best.

Unfortunately, the Bush Administration did a good job of committing the federal government to some pretty abusive long-term contracts. WE THE PEOPLE will be screwed by their Republican cronies for DECADES to come.

Anyway, the new bill is incredible! The bill, soon to be a law, will set aside - and SERIOUSLY PROTECT - more wilderness then George W. Bush set aside during his entire eight year nightmare.

The bill is excellent in the way it protects wilderness areas adjacent to urban areas like Los Angeles where I live and enjoy our mountain vistas. Cities should have green belts filled with wildlife within a short ride. It's good for natural balance, beauty, and to offer something to future generations. It also restores rivers devastated by logging throughout the West.

Of course, in predictable fashion, a few bought-and-paid-for Republicans fought the bill, siding with the miners, loggers and oil companies (not to mention they ignored the issue over the past eight years). I especially loved the way Senators like McCain, McConnell, and Chambliss all voted no. Can we guess who their allies are? McCain loves his country houses, but I guess he only cares about the beauty near his own properties.

As always, my favorite California Senators were instrumental in setting aside the largest chunk of land, totalling approximately 700,000 acres. Idaho set aside 517,000, while Colorado took third with 316,000.

Utah, which has some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the nation, fought the legislation. Their Republican delegation limited their exposure to 260,000, which is tiny compared to what should be protected there. Of course, it helped that oil and mineral companies lobbied heavily to keep pristine federal land there available for strip mines and drilling.

I guess I'm most excited because the bill protects lands that I hike and camp on regularly - yes, you've probably guessed I have a passion for wilderness. I've been exploring the wilderness areas outside of LA for almost 10 years now, and knew that most would be lost to developers if federal protections didn't arrive soon. So for me, this is a very happy day.

Thousands of acres filled with cougar, bear, coyote, and all varieties of natural things will be available for future generations. The new protections don't even allow them to build roads into most areas, which I think is the best part. Roads offer access to people who often abuse and destroy, and it's important to preserve as much as possible.

I realize that many of you will consider me a tree hugger or a hippie. No, I just believe that mankind is taking too much from this world. Why is it so wrong to want to preserve the best parts of our world? Why should I be ashamed because I want to preserve our purple mountains majesty? Trust me, in this day and age, they don't preserve themselves.

I'm very proud to want a better world. I would rather opt for less driving, less electricity, and less civilization, to preserve what is beautiful about this planet. The opposition needs to stop its quest to conquer the planet. Mankind cannot consume everything and survive. That is a recipe for disaster.

I'm proud of our elected Democratic leaders. They did a good thing, and deserve our thanks. They also set a good example, because we need to balance consumption with preservation before it's too late. Americans, especially wasteful Republicans, need to focus more on conservation and sustainability. We need more balance. I only hope our Republican friends realize it before it's too late.

Thursday's Political Rave - Michael

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