Monday, November 21, 2005
Determined and DangerousThere are so many people in Washington these days whom we love to hate, against whom we rant and rail at any given moment's notice. Don't you find that to be true? And they grow more numerous every day. Unless you are from Ohio, and maybe not even then, you weren't aware of Jean Schmidt's mean little face and even meaner soul until very recently. Now, there she is, in our gallery of despicable people in Congress. There is one member of the House who may not be as well known as he deserves to be, by the number of American citizens who really should become aware of both his name and his actions.
His name is Richard W. Pombo, and he has been a representative from Tracy, CA, for fourteen years now. The San Francisco Chronicle did a profile of him last year, May 2004, which gives a lot of background and strives mightily, I think, to be objective. However, even in the least biased of reporting, the objectives of this man are starkly obvious. He wants to destroy all federal environmental protection in this country. He actually ran for Congress with that as his goal. Currently he holds the very powerful position of Chair of the House Resources Committee - from the SFC profile:
He chairs the House Resources Committee, which drafts many of the nation's most important environmental laws and oversees 700 million acres of public land. The budgets of the Forest Service, the National Park Service and other land management agencies must be vetted by his panel. In Washington, he's as powerful a player on environmental issues as the Interior Secretary or the Environmental Protection Agency administrator.This is the guy responsible for including drilling for oil on the Outer Continental Shelf and drilling in the Arctic Refuge in the House Budget Reconciliation Bill. Though those two items were stripped from the bill, still in it is a proposal to sell off public lands containing mineral deposits. This includes more than 16 million acres previously protected from mining. Recently Pombo outlined a plan to close fifteen national parks and sell them off for energy or commercial development. Although he eventually said he was just kidding about that plan (after a lot of really angry response), one wonders.
His long-standing ambition, and current major battle, is the gutting of the Endangered Species Act. In September the House passed Pombo's bill that would "reform" the Act in such a way that endangered and threatened species would be bypassed in favor of oil and gas exploration, industrial development and suburban sprawl.
Given all of this, how surprised would you be to learn that Rep. Pombo's best friends and contributors are special interest developers, oil companies and lobbyists? Probably not very, huh? Want facts and figures? Do I have the sites for you: Pombo's in their Pocket: the Truth about Congressman Pombo and Special Interests would be a very good place to start. Another interesting place to check into his underhanded practices is Beyond Delay: The 13 Most Corrupt Members of Congress. Mr. Pombo is not only in the pocket of oil and mining companies, and developers, he's involved in the Indian casino goings-on that have been rumbling around the corridors of power for quite some time now. Jack Abramhoff and all connected with him. Yep, Pombo's in that coterie too!
A report on the efforts being made to sell off America's public lands while our attention is riveted elsewhere (the ideal would be to have 360 degree vision, but when would we ever sleep?), can be found at the Environmental Working Group's site: Dirt Cheap: America's Land in Speculators' Hands. This report gives chapter and verse, state by state, on the number of acres of public land in danger under this bill. This is land that belongs to us as citizens, land that was set aside for recreational use for you and me and our posterity. I'll have more to say on Pombo in a subsequent post. My blood pressure wants me to stop this now.
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No subject for immortal verse
That we who lived by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse."
-- Cecil Day-Lewis from Where Are The War Poets?
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