Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Wednesday, September 07, 2011
Rick Perry's Record on the Environment: Is it Bad, or Awful?
In April 2009 the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it had found that carbon dioxide and several other greenhouse gases, though not pollutants in themselves, were subject to federal regulation under the Clean Air Act, because of the threats they pose to human health via climate change. It was not the sort of finding that Texas governor Rick Perry—long a skeptic, even outright denier, of anthropogenic climate change—was liable to welcome. Still, his response was even less measured than one might have expected: In February 2010, along with the state’s attorney general, he sued the EPA. Since then, several other states have followed Perry’s lead in challenging the EPA’s finding. As signaling devices go, suing the EPA is a pretty serious one, and Perry, who is now the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, is serious about it. There are some respects in which his record as Texas governor has been more moderate than his critics suggest or fear, but the environment is not one of them. Throughout his career as a public official—which has spanned more than 25 years, including more than a decade now as governor—Perry’s record on the environment has seemed pretty unambiguous: He has come out against nearly all environmental regulations. That much is obvious, and it’s unlikely that (or, at least, unclear how) he would deny it...PERRY'S CAMPAIGN AGAINST environmental regulation began more than twenty years ago, when he was running for agriculture commissioner, an office that naturally touches on a lot of stewardship issues. In 1990 the Democratic incumbent, Jim Hightower, had come under fire for his efforts to regulate pesticides; Perry, who was then a member of the Texas House and had recently switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican side, was one of the most vocal critics. Perry hadn’t been considered a strong contender for the job, but, partly due to the backing of Texas’s influential agriculture industry, he upset Hightower in what was one of his closest campaigns to date. As agriculture commissioner, Perry continued his fight for farming interests. Pesticides remained a bugbear. One of his early campaigns against the EPA came in 1994, when the agency was preparing to implement a revised Worker Protection Standard that requires more training and protective equipment; Perry complained that compliance was going to hurt farmers. He also parted ways with the EPA over the Endangered Species Act, which he argued prioritized birds and other animals over the livelihoods and property rights of Texas landowners. Most of Perry’s record on the environment suggests an overarching goal to promote parochial business concerns: His interventions against environmental regulations stemmed from his desire to protect specific industries, rather than from some ideological objection to tree-hugging in general. Perry rarely hesitated, for example, to go to bat for the Texan beef industry. In 1992 he came out against the writer Jeremy Rifkin’s “Beyond Beef Campaign,” a movement calling for people to eat less beef because cows produce methane, which contributes to global warming. “This campaign is not about beef,” harrumphed Perry. “It's about Rifkin's desire to police American stomachs." Four years later, as the mad cow outbreak in Britain triggered a brief wave of panic in the United States, Perry even went so far as to ask the state attorney general to sue Oprah for defaming Texas hamburgers. (She won.) To the extent that there has been a consistent ideological thread running throughout Perry’s career it has been the idea that the federal government shouldn’t interfere with states’ rights...more