George Melloan, former Deputy Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page, wrote an insightful column on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, in the Journal charging the Democratic party in the United States has become the Green Party.
Melloan claims “Under Green influence, Democratic lawmakers, when they controlled Congress, designated large tracts of the American West as new “wilderness areas.” They fostered the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which has been an effective barrier to industrial or agricultural development...” He claims the Democratic party and the Greens (environmental groups) “…operate under the flag of environmentalism…”
He further suggests the Democrats and the Greens distrust economic growth.
The Endangered Species Act has been a major tool in slowing or stopping growth in the United States. Melloan writes, “Working people, fed up with the diktats of the Greens who infest their farms and factories, were a major factor in the election of Mr. Trump.” He further alleges in the Journal column that “Greens want to deprive the economy of its basic energy sources, and they have little regard for the consequences…” of their action.
Oregon example: from growth to food stamps
A perfect example of this assertion is the timber industry in the West. As we know, millions of acres of timber are burning, much of it in areas where the Greens will not allow the restoration of healthy forests. For an example of how much harm the ESA has caused, one needs to look no farther than Josephine County, Oregon. For 91 years, the Rough and Ready Sawmill was a major employer in southern Oregon. In this area, the federal government owns almost 80% of the land. The ESA helped create a flood of lawsuits blocking timber sales supplying Rough and Ready. At one time, the sawmill company had 22 mills in Josephine County. Josephine County, “…once Oregon’s fastest growing [county, has become] its poorest with 30% of its residents using food stamps.” According to one story, 1 of every 5 adults is unemployed in the county.
When a local congressman attempted to increase timber harvest in the county, Oregon’s Democrat-controlled state legislature and environmental groups opposed the restoring of timber harvests.
This is but one of many examples of productive jobs being eliminated by powerful environmental statutes such as ESA.
In May, 2017, National Geographic Magazine published an article defending the ESA. It claims the ESA to be “…one of the most powerful environmental statutes in the U.S. and one of the world’s strongest species protection laws.” The May article claims Republicans have introduced 25 proposals to “…skirt, hamper, defang, or undermine endangered species protection.”
National Geographic headlines a section of its story and calls Republicans and others who support changes in ESA “antiscience ignoramouses”. The National Geographic quotes former Congressman John Dingell (MI) who claims to be the father of the endangered species act. Mr. Dingell claimed “I wrote much of the Endangered Species Act in my head while I was driving to and from work,…” Dingle went on to claim in the article “Today we have a bunch of antiscience ignoramouses and vicious lying people in Congress.” I suspect that thousands of individuals in Josephine County, Orego,n would disagree with Congressman Dingell, who inherited his congressional seat from his father in Michigan and held it for over 50 years.
The spotted owl, an ESA protected species, is claimed to have shut down more than 2,000 sawmills in the Pacific Northwest, costing 40,000 jobs. Oregon Republican Congressman Greg Walden asserts “You have lost the economy that used to be there, therefore you have lost the revenues for the basic services. It is becoming a lawless county.”
Melloan writes, “The [Democrat] party’s environmental extremism puts it at odds with working people whose aspiration is prosperity.”
As long as Democrats and Green environmentalists want to deprive working people of jobs using statutes such as ESA, they make it clear they have no regard for those working people in the United States. It is clear the underlying philosophy is a distrust of economic growth. A Green agenda for sure.
The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress.