Tuesday, June 12, 2001

Conservation controversy re-emerges

The Southern Rocky Mountain Conservation Area was a faux pas on the part of the former NDP govern­ment and local conservation groups that may not last, says East Kootenay MLA-elect Bill Bennett,

"That's a very real possibility,” Bennett said.

Bennett's statement was spurred by comments made in a meeting between Rob Neil, habitat biolo­gist with the Ministry of Sustainable Resources (for­merly the Ministry of Environment Lands and Parks) and a diverse and large group of Elk Valley stake­holders concerned with land use issues,

During the June 6 Elk Valley Integrated Task Force meeting, Neil, who is based out of Cranbrook, said a public consultation process concerning the area would begin shortly.

"In the next couple of weeks we'll have something to present to the public on the consultation process," Neil told stakeholders.

But Bennett countered the comment by saying no consultation process will happen as outlined by Neil. "He's not going to have anything to take to the pub­lic," Bennett said while speaking on behalf of Minister of Sustainable Resources Stan Hagen.

"The official position is we are going to freeze the process as it is. Whether we move forward with the process or whether we go back on it, we have to establish what the process is going to be and what the costs are because 280,000 hectares is too important to allow this to be rushed through," Bennett said.

Also during the meeting, which was attended by a variety of interests from the mining and forestry industries, recreational user groups and other land use stakeholders, Neil gave the impression the con­servation area was a done deal based on talks he had in Victoria prior to the meeting, Bennett said those comments were inappropriate for a public servant to be making.
"People have to get beyond their particular biases and prejudices, Neil told the audience while explaining the process that lead to the establishment of the conservation area. "I don't think we can squander these opportunities,"

Neil continued. "Politics are involved - it's not here to pre­clude opportunities. I think there's an oppor­tunity to do something very positive in a posi­tive way."

The conservation area was established April 6 by the former NDP government following a joint proposal from the East Kootenay Environmental Society and the East Kootenay Wildlife Association.

It encompasses an area extending from the BC/Montana border north through the Flathead, Wigwam and portions of the Elk/Bull River watersheds to the southern boundary of Height of the Rockies Provincial Park. It also contains key grizzly bear habitat and serves as a link between the Northern Continental Divide ecosystem grizzly bear population in the US and neighbouring grizzly bear populations, in Canada.

The NDP announcement was made by Erda Walsh, the sitting MLA, and immediately sparked heavy criticism and controversy from commercial and recreational interests, due to what Bennett termed "incomplete consultation,"

"The process leading up this was not open, was not complete and we're not going to do anything until we do full scientific and socio-economic studies- The scientific study makes the determination it any extra protection is necessary," Bennett said, adding it was as if thy people spearheading the formation of the conservation area were allowed to set public policy and are still attempting to do so. "We are simply not going to make land use decisions unless we know what the cost is and if they don't like it that's too bad," Bennett said.

"And I want to make it clear I'm not talking about the hunters and fishers. I'm talking about the environmentalists who think they can make public policy," he said.


Representatives of the Kootenay Wildlife Coalition had these comments/or the new government on hearing the news that the Southern Rocky Mountain Conservation Area was to be halted for further governmental investigation

Erica Konrad of the East Kootenay Environmental Society said she would urge the government to listen to the constituents, suggesting they "get on board with the conserva­tion area" and see what it will offer.

George Wilson of the East Kootenay Wildlife Association said they were "more concerned with other decisions being made that have nothing to do with resource extraction." The BC Lands and Assets Company, whose man­date is to administer Crown land has been bringing in commercial back country recreations "which is having a bad impact, on wild life."Southern Guides and Outfitters Association rep­resentative Dave Beranek's comments were that he "wouldn't expect: any dif­ferent. I think it will bring management to in equal playing field," adding the process is important because "for a good sound decision to be made it will take time."

Friday, February 02, 2001

Environmentalism lays an egg

The Washington Times http://www.washtimes.com/
Jeff Goodson Published 2/2/01

The nation's most draconian environmental regulations, most virulent environmental extremism, and most pervasive "not in my back yard" philosophy have finally come home to roost. After years of tolerating the obstruction of new power plants by California environmentalists, rolling blackouts hit the state like a cold shower and left millions without electricity. In spite of a mad rush to complete several plants already under construction, the situation promises to get worse over the mid term as new generating capacity slowly struggles to keep up with the mothballing of older plants that should have been replaced years ago.

Democrats are freaked out by the situation, and no wonder. After decades of genuflecting before the crackpot energy ideas of druids like Ralph Nader and Governor Moonbeam, they're now dizzy from trying to spin this real-world energy crisis into a conservative deregulation problem. The liberal media, meanwhile, pontificates over whether the cause of the blackouts is financial mismanagement by the utilities, manipulation of power supplies by the wholesalers, or simple corporate greed.

What a hoot.

There's nothing complicated about California's energy crisis. California is out of power because it let environmentalists sit at the table with the adults and kneecap every major power project conceived in the last decade. And they've been very good at it. Department of Energy statistics show that both the number of California utilities and their total electric generating capacity actually declined from 1988-1998, and that the Golden State ranks dead last nationwide in total electric generation per capita.

The solution to this mess is simple: Slap down the environmental obstructionists responsible for the energy crisis in the first place, and bring more power plants on line. Neutering the environmentalists shouldn't be too hard, unless the world's sixth largest economy wants to permanently relegate itself to Third World status. California brand environmentalism now looks as silly as mood rings, and as dangerous as the Ebola virus.

Completing the power plants shouldn't be that hard either — assuming of course that private sector power companies still want to operate in California. Unfortunately, in a tofu-inspired stroke of intrepid boldness reminiscent of Michael Dukakis in helmet and tank, the best that Gov. Gray Davis has been able to muster is the appointment of a power plant "czar" to "honcho" construction.

Aside from power supplies that resemble those in the Congo, all California has to show for decades of environmental arrogance is the export to its neighbors of the very environmental impacts that it has fought at home. That's industrial imperialism at its worst. The states that are bailing out California should charge full market value for their megawatts, and maybe slap a hefty NIMBY tax on that power to boot just to drive home the lesson that environmental extremism has consequences for the neighbors, as well as at home.

In Washington, the Bush administration should move aggressively to end federal land lockdowns, and the practice of abusing environmental laws to stop development of the infrastructure that powers the nation. The Great Generation, like adults everywhere, clearly understood that you have to break some eggs to make mayonnaise. Unfortunately, they didn't teach their children very well. The baby boomers think "sustainable development" is using the federal licensing process to tear out the hydropower dams their parents built; designating national monuments by presidential fiat to lock down energy resources on federal lands; and abusing endangered species and wetlands regulations to obstruct energy development on private and public property alike. None of which, of course, is either "sustainable" or "development."

More generating capacity also means searching for new energy supplies. Including on federal multiple use areas like the national forests and national wildlife refuges, where there is a long history of energy production. After all, the public lands are public; they belong to the people, not the environmentalists. Environmentalists will, as usual, try to make this sound like the rape of Yosemite. But there's no reason why energy production on wildlife refuges can't be environmentally friendly. Ask the Audubon Society — it has been happily producing oil for 50 years on refuges like the Rainey wildlife sanctuary on Vermillion Bay.

Environmentalists aren't conservationists. And in spite of their focus groups, which tell them they look less extreme when they call themselves that, they never will be. As Teddy Roosevelt knew well, conservationists believe in the wise multiple use of natural resources. The environment is, after all, too important to leave to the environmentalists. The California energy crisis will go away when there is more power supply than there is power demand. It's time for the adults to thank the environmentalists for their opinion, and get to work generating that power. If Californians don't want to accept those adult responsibilities, they can always keep paying the piper.

Jeff Goodson is president of JW Goodson Associates Inc., a Texas property consulting company.

Saturday, January 13, 2001

A definition of "Political Correctness"

A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical liberal minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.