Saturday, January 03, 2004

Republican Upset About Republican Environmental Policy

Some readers of a certain age may vaguely remember when Republican moderates walked the earth. One of these was Congressman Paul "Pete" McClosky of California. McClosky was a California Congressman from 1968 to 1982 and was one of the co-founders of Earth Day.

McClosky, writing in the LA Times, is not pleased with current Republican policies toward the environment in general, and particularly regarding the Endangered Species Act. In fact, he think it may spell their doom.
The assault on the law is widespread and relentless.

The administration and its comrades in arms argue that the [Endangered Species Act] is ineffective, expensive and in need of drastic overhaul. In truth, they are acting as agents for the timber industry, the mining industry, land developers, big agriculture and other economic interests that sometimes find their profits slightly decreased in the short run by the need to obey this law.

These points are key: Species-protecting measures can have economic consequences on narrow interests in the short term, but in the long term the economy overall — along with the public and the natural world — benefits from a healthy ecosystem.

When I served in Congress, conservatives and conservationists worked together in friendship. Something dark and onerous has happened since the Republicans took over the House. It's time for Republicans to stand up and try to keep the party true to its historical concept that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness include the preservation of endangered species.

If we stand back and allow Democrats to be identified as the sole preservers of environmental values, the GOP could soon return to the minority status it occupied for most of the last 70 years. And that, however unfortunate for the party, would be a good thing for eagles, turkeys, ducks and rainbow trout.
We can only hope.

From Calpundit