Friday, June 01, 2018

Western David Fights Environmental Goliath in Rural Utah

William Perry Pendley

It is a cliché that the main stream media get much wrong, infuse news with opinions, and—what they do not get wrong or slant—they miss entirely.  Nonetheless, it is nothing short of amazing they failed to report the most outsized match since Goliath, the Philistine champion, sneered contemptuously at ruddy-faced David, the shepherd boy.  After all, when three poor rural counties in a remote corner of a western state sue a who’s who of the world’s most powerful organizations and a billion-dollar corporation, that is news!
That was not the media’s reaction when those groups, the corporation, and a few American Indian tribes filed federal lawsuits against President Donald J. Trump.  When those lawsuits were filed reporters—who love every lawsuit, regardless of legal merit, filed against Trump—heaped on the praise.  Another reason they did so was the suits challenged President Trump’s reductions of two national monuments in Utah created (illegally say most experts) by President Clinton in 1996 and President Obama in 2016 at the behest of environmental groups, media darlings all.  Finally, the bicoastal media elite’s distain for—when they think of us at all—fly-over-country, the Mountain West, and rural Utah is positively breathtaking.
There is no excusing, however, the failure of the media to reveal the real target of the lawsuits, that is, some of the hardest working, poorest, and longest suffering descendants of some of the West’s oldest families:  the men, women, and children of Garfield, Kane, and San Juan Counties.  After all, the lawsuits demand they stop ranching and farming, logging and mining, searching for sources of energy, and recreating on the vast, wide-open federal lands they and their ancestors have used, in full compliance with federal law, for many generations. 
What is it they are to do instead?  Pump gas, pull espressos, and fluff duvets or otherwise serve the tourists who, although promised after the Clinton shut down of 1.9 million acres in 1996, never came.  Even if they had, as western third-generation logger Bruce Vincent said when a similar disaster befell his tiny town, “You have to sell a lot of t-shirts to replace a job in the mill.”  Just who are these Goliaths that so denigrate rural Utahns?
The Natural Resources Defense Council, as of 2015, had revenue of $130 million and assets of three times that amount.  The Sierra Club the same year raised nearly $110 million with assets of $82 million.  That year, the National Trust for Historic Preservation raised nearly $52 million and boasted assets of nearly $296 million.  Who knows how much they are worth today?  All totaled, they and the groups allied with them in their lawsuits raised $390 million for the latest year available and bragged of assets of more than $855 million.  At the head of the parade is the most admirable, self-made, billionaire owner of Patagonia, a self-described “dirtbag” who once spent over 200 nights a year sleeping outdoors.  Sadly, he and the groups with which he is allied think all should live his lifestyle.
As outrageous as is the demand by the multi-million-dollar environmental groups and the billionaire ascetic for the future of the families of rural Utah is the legal holding they want federal courts to adopt:  No president’s actions may be reversed by a future president!  It sounds like The Ten Commandments when Pharaoh shouts:  "So let it be written.  So let it be done."  But presidents—no matter how exalted by the media—are not pharaohs; nothing is written in stone—even the Constitution can be amended; and illegal acts must be rectified. 
President Trump was right to review abuses of the Antiquities Act of 1906.  No one was surprised the review found Clinton and Obama violated the law, single-mindedly pursued “environmental legacies,” and kowtowed shamelessly to demands by radical environmental groups.  Now however, rural Utah is fighting back on its way to the Supreme Court.

For more information:  Wilderness Society v. Trump

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