Let's not make a deal

 

Greg Hanscom's excellent article in the July 22 edition of HCN gave readers an in-depth look into Utah's public-land politics ("Red Rock Resolution?"). I was particularly impressed by the description of how the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance has operated. SUWA has reportedly been willing to compromise in order to achieve wilderness designation. But unlike public-land advocates in some Western states, the organization has so far been unwilling to allow Utah politicians to use wilderness designation to pass environmentally destructive provisions they would otherwise have trouble enacting into law.

That could change if Rep. Rob Bishop and the Pew Charitable Trust have their way. Bishop will only support more wilderness in Utah if a large area of public lands is opened to increased oil and gas development. In other words, we can protect some spectacular wilderness in Utah, but only if we facilitate accelerated climate change via development of dirty fossil fuels.

The potential Utah deal would be reminiscent of the one Nevada wilderness activists backed, made by Pew with Sen. Harry Reid. In that "compromise," a handful of small wilderness areas were designated and some public land was transferred to Las Vegas. It also cleared the way for a new pipeline to bring eastern Nevada groundwater to Las Vegas.

In his editorial on Hanscom's article, Paul Larmer suggests that such deals are a sign of "a maturing wilderness movement." Paul then quotes Pew's Ken Rait in support of the "let's make a deal" approach to wilderness. Neither Larmer nor Rait reveal that, beginning in the 1990s, Pew has used its money to effectively control the wilderness agenda of the environmental community. Among the "strategies" Pew insists upon when it gives grants is willingness to make the sort of political deals Bishop wants in Utah.

The wisdom of allowing a private foundation to set the agenda for the wilderness movement was not discussed. The stories also failed to mention that SUWA began taking Pew money in the early aughts and by the end of 2011 listed on its balance sheet "investments of over $3.5 million." In 2011, SUWA's executive director was paid $96,500, according to the IRS. Still, SUWA describes itself as "a small, locally based advocacy group" that has "remained a lean, issues-focused organization with low overhead costs." According to Wikipedia, at the same time SUWA's income was skyrocketing, membership declined 30 percent. Nevertheless, the organization still says that "about 80 percent" of its funding comes "from membership dues and donations."

If this deal is cut, it will likely be the result of the influence Pew has gained within SUWA and in the wilderness movement. It may be just coincidence, but the source of the Pew Trusts' $5.6 billion dollar endowment is the Sun Oil Company, aka Sunoco. It would be ironic if oil money convinced SUWA to make a deal that facilitates the development of dirty shale oil on Utah's public lands.

Felice Pace
Klamath, California

 

High Country News Classifieds
  • DEVELOPMENT AND OPERATIONS COORDINATOR
    Development & Operations Coordinator Terms: 1.0 FTE (full-time), Salary DOE ($45,000 - $55,000) Benefits: Paid Time Off (12-24 days/year depending on tenure), Paid Holidays (10/year),...
  • GUIDE TO WESTERN NATIONAL MONUMENTS
    NEW BOOK showcases 70 national monuments across the western United States. Use "Guide10" for 10% off at cmcpress.org
  • CARBON RANCH PLANNER
    The Quivira Coalition (www.quiviracoaltion.org) is a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that builds resilience on arid working lands. We foster ecological, economic, and social health through education,...
  • EDUCATION AND OUTREACH DIRECTOR
    Education and Outreach Program Director The Quivira Coalition (www.quiviracoaltion.org) is a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that builds resilience on arid working lands. We foster ecological, economic,...
  • WESTERN DIVISION DIRECTOR OF FIELD PROGRAMS
    DEADLINE TO APPLY: October 29, 2021 LOCATION FLEXIBLE (WESTERN HUB CITY PREFERRED) Overview The Land Trust Alliance is the voice of the land trust community....
  • COMMUNICATIONS AND OUTREACH ASSOCIATE
    Communications and Outreach Associate Position Opening: www.westernlaw.org/communications-outreach-associate ************************************************* Location: Western U.S., ideally in one of WELC's existing office locations (Santa Fe or Taos, NM, Helena,...
  • FREELANCE GRAPHIC DESIGNER & PROJECT COORDINATOR (REMOTE)
    High Country News (HCN) is seeking a contract Graphic Designer & Project Coordinator to design promotional, marketing and fund-raising assets and campaigns, and project-manage them...
  • FILM AND DIGITAL MEDIA: ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF INDIGENOUS MEDIA, CULTURAL SOVEREIGNTY AND DECOLONIZATION (INITIAL REVIEW 12.1.21)
    Film and Digital Media: Assistant Professor of Indigenous Media, Cultural Sovereignty and Decolonization (Initial Review 12.1.21) Position overview Position title: Assistant Professor - tenure-track Salary...
  • REAL ESTATE SPECIALIST
    To learn more about this position and to apply please go to the following URL.
  • ENVIRONMENTAL GEOPHYSICS
    "More Data, Less Digging" Find groundwater and reduce excavation costs!
  • RARE CHIRICAHUA RIPARIAN LAND FOR SALE
    40 acres: 110 miles from Tucson: native trees, grasses: birder's heaven::dark sky/ borders state lease & National forest/5100 ft/13-16 per annum rain
  • CENTRAL PARK CULTURAL RESOURCE SPECIALIST
    Agency: Oregon Parks and Recreation Department Salary Range: $5,203 - $7,996 Position Title: Central Park Cultural Resource Specialist Do you have a background in Archaeology...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    Come live and work in one of the most beautiful places in the world! As our Staff Attorney you will play a key role in...
  • ARIZONA GRAZING CLEARINGHOUSE
    Dedicated to preventing the ecological degradation caused by livestock grazing on Arizona's public lands, and exposing the government subsidies that support it.
  • OPERATIONS MANAGER
    Position Summary: Friends of the Inyo (friendsoftheinyo.org) is seeking a new Operations Manager. The Operations Manager position is a full-time permanent position that reports directly...
  • WATER RIGHTS BUREAU CHIEF
    Water Rights Bureau Chief, State of Montana, DNRC, Water Resources Division, Helena, MT Working to support and implement the Department's mission to help ensure that...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Amargosa Conservancy (AC), a conservation nonprofit dedicated to standing up for water and biodiversity in the Death Valley region, seeks an executive director to...
  • DEVELOPMENT & OUTREACH ASSOCIATE
    Southeast Alaska Conservation Council is hiring! Who We Are: The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC) is a small grassroots nonprofit based out of Juneau, Alaska,...
  • DESERT LANDS ORGANIZER
    Position Summary: Friends of the Inyo seeks a Desert Lands Organizer to assist with existing campaigns that will defend lands in the California desert, with...
  • IDAHO CONSERVATION LEAGUE
    Want to help preserve Idaho's land, water, and air for future generations? Idaho Conservation League currently has 3 open positions. We are looking for a...