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Former Interior Secretary: Congress has declared war on the environment

09 Jun 2011  |   Emma Brown

Tags: Congress, General Political

Former secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt declared in a speech at the National Press Conference Wednesday that Congress was waging an unprecedented war against the environment. 

Pointing to recent attempts by Congress to revoke the Antiquities Act of 1906 and the Wilderness Act of 1964—both historically popular bills for Republican and Democratic administrations alike—Babbitt argued that this Congress’ has a radical agenda that threatens to undo nearly over a century of positive environmental legislation. Additionally, pointed out Babbitt, numerous riders passed by Congress have been decidedly anti-environmental. These riders include:

  • A resolution to remove wolves from the endangered species list
  • The termination of a “catch-shares” program designed to protect and renew depleted ocean fisheries.
  • A resolution terminating an Interior Department Initiative to “identify and maintain the natural character of our most important remaining undesignated public lands.”

“The intent,” explained Babbitt “is to chip away, a blow at a time, at the edifice of environmental laws and regulations, avoiding a frontal assault that would call attention to the overall objective.”

Americans cannot “lie low” and wait it out continued Babbitt. Such appeasement would only allow a radical legislature to quietly annihilate important, widely-supported protections for some of America’s greatest treasures. 

Rather, Americans need to sound the alarm. Babbitt advises that President Obama and others should use the bully pulpit to inform the public and make a strong stand against these attacks. “For our opponents know that when anti-environmentalism becomes a public issue they will lose,” Babbitt contends. “They know that American support for our environmental heritage is wide and deep.”

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