Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Absence makes the heart grow fonder ...

Has it really been four months? Time flies when you're working for The Man, huh?

Well, the good news, if you're even a frequent follower (I hear all the time the phrase, "I'm a closet follower of the Political Sportsman"), is that I haven't completely disappeared. The bad news is that, if you hunt or fish in the United States, you're likely not seeing much love from the bought-and-paid-for politicians in Washington (or from the clowns running for president on the GOP ticket, for that matter).

And, worse, there are "advocacy" groups out there that only seem to advocate for the Great White (monied) Hunter who doesn't care if the bull he shoots is corn-fed and raised behind a fence or one that might require a bit of shoe rubber to reach well off the beaten path. To hell with the rest of us who want to see our public lands protected, if for no other reason than they provide the conduit to our sporting heritage and the lifeline for the future of hunting and fishing in America.

Let's start with the most egregious offenders, shall we?

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Melissa Simpson: A former soldier in the Bush Administration's Resource And Public-lands Extraction Machine (she worked for both Interior and the USDA in natural resources jobs), Simpson is now schlepping for Safari Club International, a reputable, if misguided, organization. "Misguided" certainly describes SCI's decision to bring Simpson on board a while back--she's no friend of the hunter (although she's a great friend of, say, the rich white guys who own oil companies and hunt while on safari half a world away). During her time with RAPE, more gas drilling permits were rubber stamped than is conceivable, and the constant fight against the 2001 Roadless Rule continued unabated on behalf of industry.

Simpson appears to be the leading SCI antagonist these days, advocating for such asinine initiatives as the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act of 2011, or as I like to call it, the Fish and Game Subversives Act (FAGS). This toxic bill, introduced by two energy industry stooges on The Hill--Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California and Sen. John Barasso of Wyoming--would remove the tenuous protections enjoyed by backcountry lands administered by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. Conceivably, if the bill passes (and it's looking less and less likely because folks like you have made a stink about it--good work, by the way), it could open the up high-quality public lands belonging to every American citizen to industrial-grade development like oil and gas drilling and mining, motorized vehicle use and other onerous uses. Keeping in mind that the backcountry is the last pristine fish and game habitat left in the United States, and you, as a sportsman, can smell what this bill is really made of, right?

Simpson, in her testimony before Congress, claimed to represent "mainstream sportsmen," and then tried to be fashionable and channel Theodore Roosevelt: "President Roosevelt described conservation as meaning 'sound development as much as it means protection' and that 'natural resources
must be used for the benefit of all people.'"

As they say on ESPN, let's break it down:

  • Mainstream? Well, at first, it seemed accurate, especially when the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation jumped on board to support the bill. A few months later, though, after the "mainstream" members of RMEF threatened to leave the organization for supporting a bill that would actually diminish the quality of and quantity of elk habitat, the RMEF pulled its support and slunk off into the hills to lick its wounds. 
  • Teddy? Sure, he said that. He also said, "There can be no greater issue than that of conservation in this country," as well as, "Defenders of the short-sighted men who in their greed and selfishness will, if permitted, rob our country of half its charm by their reckless extermination of all useful and beautiful wild things sometimes seek to champion them by saying the 'the game belongs to the people.' So it does; and not merely to the people now alive, but to the unborn people. The 'greatest good for the greatest number' applies to the number within the womb of time, compared to which those now alive form but an insignificant fraction. Our duty to the whole, including the unborn generations, bids us restrain an unprincipled present-day minority from wasting the heritage of these unborn generations. The movement for the conservation of wild life and the larger movement for the conservation of all our natural resources are essentially democratic in spirit, purpose, and method."

With that in mind, I wonder if TR would wander through the gas fields of Pennsylvania or the gas patch of western Wyoming today and think "development" is such a good thing, after all.

In short, Melissa Simpson is toxic. That SCI keeps her on the payroll is foolish and counter to the group's stated mission, "First for Hunters."

U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, Republican from Maryland: Harris was serving as the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment today when the documentary filmmaker who made the acclaimed film "Gasland" was ordered arrested and removed from a public committee meeting for attempting to film the gathering for a future documentary.

The hearing, focusing on the controversial practice of "fracking," was recorded on C-SPAN, but documentarian Josh Fox wanted some higher-quality footage for use in his next film. Now, for clarity, there are rules governing media access to congressional meetings, but they're usually only strictly enforced when there's the threat of a throng of media descending on a hearing. There was no throng in this case. Fox simply wanted to record members of Congress during the committee meeting, some of whom would likely go on record supporting the practice of hydrofracturing (fracking), which is accomplished by injecting an unknown (trade secret of the industry ... seriously) chemical cocktail into the ground the force shale gas up from the depths of the earth.

We're seeing the impacts of fracking in drinking water in Wyoming and its practice requires the use of surface water, which is literally drying up trout streams in Pennsylvania and potentially polluting creeks and streams as it's brought back up to the surface.

Harris and his fellow Republicans ordered Fox arrested because he continued to invoke his First Amendment rights and refused to leave the hearing, camera in tow. Wow. I can't wait to see the next documentary.

I'm sure there are more bad actors out there, who claim to represent hunters and anglers but truly represent something much more subversive and sinister. But I've dallied long enough for today. I'll keep at it. If you'd like to suggest a few other bad actors that need a good bitch-slapping, feel free to secretly share them. I'll do my best to be a bit more timely and post a bit more frequently. This day job is kicking my ass...

1 comment:

  1. We as sportsmen and women need to expose these b......s for what they are and who they really work for. The world is full of them, but there are more of us! We here in Montana have one of those kind in the US House of Representatives, firmly bought and paid for.