New Monuments/Old Attitudes II

dallison dallison at
Thu Jan 18 17:07:45 EST 2001


Thanks for continuing a discussion that I hope will bring to the surface a
number of issues that will be tormenting or enthusing (or both) many of us
in the natural resource community over the next few years. Please excuse the
length of this posting but your note raises some particular concerns.

IMHO, any executive order that the Bush administration, under the leadership
of James Watts' protégé with legal advice from the AG to the right of Jesse
Helms, would more likely be anti-conservation and pro-exploitation than
otherwise. It sounds like you might even agree with that. (This is a crowd
that is bringing live steers to the Inaugural Ball this week - perhaps a
portent of the real live bs that they will be bringing to DC that we have
only seen in metaphor  in the past).

The reason for the executive orders by President Clinton is specifically
because consensus could not be achieved in the States containing the largest
unprotected areas of public lands and waters and, at the same time, the
largest concentration of industries and entities committed to the
exploitation of those lands and waters for private profit. Those entities
control the Politics in those relatively sparsely populated States and have
demonstrated, for far more than the past eight years, that they consider
their rights to extract and use and sometimes to despoil and destroy as
higher and greater than the rights of the greater public to protect and

As Secretary nominee for Interior has pointed out, she and President Select
Bush believe that the rights of the States to control lands and water owned
by the people of the United States should prevail over the public trust
authorities who have been appointed to manage and, yes, protect those
resources. The men and women of NOAA, NMFS, Interior, including MMS and BLM
and others, USFS, USCG and thousands of other scientists, managers and
enforcement officials are the public trust authorities entrusted with their
responsibilities by the public through their elected officials. Extractive
industries and the politicians they fund do not like limitations imposed by
the public trust. The system and process you endorse includes the monument
legislation in order to maintain the balance that would otherwise be thrown
into disarray by the money, power and political influence of the few seeking
to overturn the common interest of the many.

With regard to the importance of process and the rule of law, the provisions
of the Act empowering the President to act to protect areas of special value
from possible destruction or damage incorporate the rule of law. The
monuments were designated according to the provisions of the Act and all of
the process established by Congress were followed.

As a number of commentators have noted during the past few months, NO
monument designation has ever been reversed by Congress and there is no
provision for a President to undo a monument designation by executive order.
On the other hand, there are a number of advocates for greater environmental
protection, both within and outside Congress, who would appreciate getting a
clear head count of the members of Congress and the members of the Bush
administration who are willing to hold up their hands over the next two
years and identify themselves as voting opponents of the environment and
proponents of undoing national monuments.

Such a clear identification could make the next two elections much more
interesting. And many would believe that that would be very likely to "best
serve the environment in the long term."

Dave Allison
Allison Associates
Washington, DC

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-coral-list at
[mailto:owner-coral-list at]On Behalf Of Carl B.Lind
Sent: Thursday, January 18, 2001 2:44 PM
To: dallison; coral-list at
Subject: Re: New Monuments/Old Attitudes

"Public resources belong to all of the public."

Exactly.  And that's why care must be taken in making decisions about those

The "Executive Order" is a two-edged sword:  it can be used for positive or
negative purposes.  Why use the Executive Order when a consensus decision
might be achieved to the same end?   The fact the Clinton waited eight years
to sign these Orders indicates that perhaps there were serious difficulties
that would be better addressed by open, public debate.  By not having this,
affected states and communities could be embittered to the point of
hindering future environmental legislation.

The issue is process.  This is a country that is supposed to be ruled by
law, not man.  The Executive Order appears to come close to negating that
idea.  In today's society where so many people are effected by such
decisions, neither Clinton nor Bush should be able to make environmental law
without at least attempting to achieve some sort of consensus from the
citizens.  This will best serve the environment in the long term.


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