Conservationist Conservatism

Huh?

“The United States needs to be less dependent on foreign sources of energy and more dependent upon American resourcefulness. Whether that is in the Everglades, or whether that is in the eastern Gulf region, or whether that’s in North Dakota, we need to go where the energy is,” she said. “Of course it needs to be done responsibly. If we can’t responsibly access energy in the Everglades then we shouldn’t do it.”

In 2002, the federal government at the urging of President George W. Bush bought back oil and gas drilling rights in the Everglades for $120 million. Bachmann, who wants to get rid of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, said she would rely on experts to determine whether drilling can be done without harming the environment.

“No one wants to hurt or contaminate the earth. … We don’t want to harm our water, our ecosystems or the air. That is a minimum bar,” she said.

“From there, though, that doesn’t mean that the two have to be mutually exclusive. We can protect the environment and do so responsibly, but we can also protect the environment and not kill jobs in America and not deny ourselves access to the energy resources that America’s been so blessed with.”

The Minnesota congresswoman, who is seeking the GOP nomination to challenge President Barack Obama in 2012, is on a four-day swing through Florida, ending Monday in Miami.

“We do have EPA’s in each of the 50 states and I think that it’s up to the states,” she said. “The states have the right to develop their own environmental protections and regulations, as they all have.”

She said she recognizes there is a federal role when environmental issues cross borders, but she added that a big problem with the EPA now is that it does not consider job creation or job losses as part of its role in enforcing regulations. She said the regulations it does have prevent businesses from being able to reasonably create a profit.

“If we create a new department that is focused on conservation and get rid of the EPA, that would send a strong signal about what our priorities are. We believe in conservation, but I also believe at the same time that the EPA has overstepped its bounds,” Bachmann said.

Well ok then. Does anyone think that Bachman has a clue about, much less an interest in, this issue? I’m guessing she was told that Floridians quite value the Everglades and that she needs to be sensitive to that when she’s campaigning down there. Unfortunately, she doesn’t really value environmentalism and so can’t make a coherent case for it. No Republicans can (and most Democrats just lie about it.)

If there is a way to drill that guarantees there is no danger to these sensitive environments, I suppose a lot of people might be persuaded. The problem is, there isn’t. But then I’m quite sure that Bachman can dig up many “experts” who say there is. In fact, there are a bunch of them working for BP and the government right now, who guaranteed that there was no danger to the gulf if they were unable to cap a well for months on end. In fact, they said that couldn’t ever happen. But it did.

And look what’s happening in the gulf today:

The fear is palpable on the docks from Galveston to Panama City. Commercial fishermen working the waters hardest hit by the BP oil spill are worried sick about their future. It keeps them up at night. Many are convinced the 200 million gallons of crude that spewed into the Gulf last year have done irreparable damage to the fragile fisheries that provide their livelihood. According to a new CBS News segment, Gulf fishermen “have started catching fish with sores, fin rot, and infections at a greater frequency than ever before.”

It would seem BP’s oil is coming home to roost in an epidemic of sick fish and devastated lives. An Aug. 15 CBS News video – that’s going viral as we speak – captures the uncertainty of tens of thousands of commercial Gulf fishermen: “I don’t think we’ll be fishing in five years,” says Lucky Russell. “My opinion. …Everybody is worried.”

Everybody includes LSU oceanography Professor Jim Cowan, who has been studying the Gulf ecosystem for years:

“When one of these things comes on deck, it’s sort of horrifying,” Cowan said. “I mean, there these large dark lesions and eroded fins and areas on the body where scales have been removed. I’d imagine I’ve seen 30 or 40,000 red snapper in my career, and I’ve never seen anything like this. At all. Ever.”

I’m sure that the new GOP “conservation” department, along with the EPAs in 50 states will ensure that doesn’t happen again, right?

But then maybe it doesn’t really matter who’s in charge:

The State Department gave a crucial green light on Friday to a proposed 1,711-mile pipeline that would carry heavy oil from oil sands in Canada across the Great Plains to terminals in Oklahoma and the Gulf Coast.

The project, which would be the longest oil pipeline outside of Russia and China, has become a potent symbol in a growing fight that pits energy security against environmental risk, a struggle highlighted by last year’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

By concluding that the $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline would have minimal effect on the environment, President Obama would risk alienating environmental activists, who gave him important support in the 2008 election and were already upset by his recent decisions to expand domestic oil drilling and delay clean air rules. Pipeline opponents have protested in front of the White House for a week, resulting in nearly 400 arrests.

At the same time, rising concerns about the weak economy and high gas prices have made it difficult for the administration to oppose a project that would greatly expand the nation’s access to oil from a friendly neighbor and create tens of thousands of jobs.

If I were a cynic, I’d be inclined to think that certain interests were happy to keep unemployment high so as to ensure that this sort of reckless project passes muster.

But, hey, nothing to worry about. We’ll have a new and improved GOP “conservation” department that will factor in the fact that 10 years after the big oil pipeline is built, many of the same people will be called back to work to clean up whatever horrific environmental disaster happens as a result. That’s how it worked in Alaska, anyway. It’s win-win.

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