I am responding to several letters in the May 8 edition. One letter said that "enviros are mostly intruders funded by wealthy foundations." Those foundations are set up by nonprofit corporations supported by the donations of many environmentally conscious citizens and companies. An individual cannot make any impact on the money-obsessed power structure of the West without joining with other like-minded people who are willing to put their money where their mouth is. The "enviros' are not some faceless foundation.
Donations that support environmental groups are given in direct support of the actions taken by the groups. In contrast, the targets of environmental actions are often extractive industries funded by stockholders and consumers who have no idea what environmental havoc they are supporting. The devastation is hidden from view even when an interested consumer tries to find out the truth. Unlike the companies causing the environmental damage, the "enviros' have no money-making agenda. In that way, their motives would be considered more pure, not less so.
The same letter said that environmentalists "don't have grassroots support in local communities." This may be true in the communities that are directly affected. But the point of environmentalism is to stop damage to private or public property that has far-reaching repercussions to other people's land and environment. We don't think anyone has the right to ruin other people's air, water, and wildlife, nor destroy our public lands to make a buck for themselves. So the environmentalists do have grassroots support in areas that are indirectly affected. That's the whole reason they are involved at all!
If you want to poop in your own sandbox, that's fine as long as only you are affected. When the rest of us are affected, then environmentalists will get involved. We're not trying to take away your private property rights or destroy your way of life, we're just trying to stop you from trampling on all of our rights to breathe clean air, drink clean water, and enjoy unspoiled public lands.
One way or another, the West is changing. If control is put on development, that in itself is a change. If control is not put on development, those moving here will impose the change. My fear is that the change will be to an abusive recreational emphasis, rather than an abusive extractive one.
Another letter says, "We will always have extractive industries in the West because our survival depends on them." Our survival doesn't depend on them, our way of life does - there is a difference. However, the point is valid. An environmental "win" over the extractive industries does not represent a complete eradication of those industries, but to force those industries to clean up after themselves and conduct their business in a way that is environmentally responsible. We will all have to pay more for the products of the extractive industries, but those products are now heavily subsidized by the destruction of the West.
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- Rex Johnson Jr on How to pass a wilderness bill in 2014
- April Warwick on Sweeping new rule for Alaska's predator control
- David Lichtenstein on The paradox of the housing boom and bust