Sidewalk Politics Act I

Or you can call them Environmental Peddlers.

Today on 8th and Washington Street in Hoboken, I was approached by a gang of volunteers from "Environmental Action" group attempting to get me to sign up to "Tell Congress NO" to the approval of 800,000 acres of "protected" land for sale to timber companies, developers and oil and gas interests.

forest - Sidewalk Politics Act I

Now while I'm always open to hearing what these people are fighting for, and may even agree with them once in a blue moon, it really gets my goat when they cannot answer my questions. They just recite some numbers they were brainwashed into saying.

Since I'm not an environmental expert, I wanted to know more. I wanted to quantify what all this meant.

They claimed "We need to stop the sale of our National Heritage". I asked then why do we buy our lumber overseas? No answer.

They threw this gargantuan number "800,000 acres of protected land" around like it was the size of the sun or something. I asked how does that compare to the total number of acres that will remain if the sale goes through? They couldn't answer the questions.

I asked if our country would fiscally benefit either from the sale, increased tax-revenue, or more self-reliance on OUR OWN natural resources. They couldn't answer the question except with another question (such as "environment", or "wildlife").

I am all for doing sensible things. We don't want to turn our entire country into a giant metropolis, but there comes a time that you have to dip into your own resources for the good of the country (as President Logan would say on "24").

USA%20rhode%20island - Sidewalk Politics Act IWhy don't these activists say that total acreage being sold (spread across 41 states) is only similar in size to the state of Rhode Island? Or that the total area of the USA is over 2.4 BILLION acres? This 800,000 acres of land represents 3/100ths of ONE percent of our total land mass.

Who knows, maybe it's wrong, maybe it's right. What do you think? What do you say when approached? Do you just accept what some political group tells you without question? Do you ever wonder why so much effort is being put into the "Heritage" (read: plants and soil), and not into keeping JOBS here? You have illegal immigrants working menial jobs, while high-end jobs get carted off to India, and we're worried about a BLIP of land being sold to perhaps keep our country STRONGER?

How the heck did our country get built to begin with??? Why do we have to stop now?

With our population pushing 300 MILLION, I'd say this was a fair idea.

But this still reminds me of a Penn & Teller show I saw recently regarding the Endangered Species Act.


pennteller - Sidewalk Politics Act I

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Friday, June 2, 2006 3:59 pm

Hey – hope you had a good memorial day weekend! I’ll try the second question first, then the first one second – I think there is a lot of room for compromise on things. While an environmentalist, I’m not a ‘no compromise in defense of mother earth’ kind of person. I believe in sustainablity, smart growth, etc. And I do agree with revisiting older laws to make sure they’re appropriate to our times. Most environmental laws have that – the clean air, originall passed in 1972(ish), we reviewed and updated in 1990. The endangered species act goes through constant tinkering, as does the safe drinking water act. But a couple thoughts come to mind — take fuel efficiency standards – they were updated in 1977, and the US saw a 19% drop in fuel consumption in 8 years time (77-85). But, as the fleet changed (adding in SUVs, etc) the efficency standard wasn’t updated; SUVs fit into a loophole where they don’t have to comply with the standard, so since 85, the ave fuel economy has dropped. It’s not because the technology isn’t there, it’s because the political will isn’t there. No politician wants to upset the automakers, or the UAW. Not to be overly cynical, but the auto guys said that seatbelts would bankrupt them, that airbags would destory them, but that simply isn’t the case. So, I’m all for updating and for compromise, but it needs to go both ways (on the fuel efficiency thing, many experts agree… Read more »

Friday, May 26, 2006 6:06 pm

Hey again – In terms of total protcected land – the long answer is, wow, that’s hard to answer. Because ‘protected land’ in the US falls under so many categories and jurisdictions. BUT to be clear about what we’re talking about – there are about 190M acres of land overseen by the US Forest Service (remember, not all forests – grassland, tundra, dessert, etc.) – this is about 7.9% of the land mass of the US. Of those 190M acres, 100M open to logging, mining, drilling, road-building, etc. That leaves 90M acres of land in the system that is not impacted by those activities. Of THAT, about 30M acres (1.2% of US land mass), is protected either as a national park, or as a ‘wilderness ares’ (an official wilderness area is defined as having no mechanized activity allowed). That leaves about 60M acres of land in the system, which is untouched, but is touchable, as it were. In 1999 President Clinton set aside 58.5M of those acres as protected under what he called ‘The Roadless Rule’. He did so not because he was a tree-hugger (he wasn’t), but because 2.2 million Americans sent in a petition to the US forest service to protect these areas. For the record, that’s 1 out of every 136 people here, and was the largest petition drive in the history of the US (as far as I know). Sadly, as one of his first moves in office, Pres. Bush (also not a treehugger 😉 set… Read more »

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 11:23 pm

Hey – I work with EA – I’d be happy to answer any questions you have – I’m pretty swamped this week, but could back to you within a week.

One short answer – we take issue with the fact that these lands have been protected, and are now open for sale. Also, we’re not talking just about rolling lush forests – it’s grassland, prairie land, tundra, etc. The 800K acres of land includes wildlife habitat, critical watersheds, and yes forests.

We’re not against lumber, we’re not against logging per se. BUT we are against doing it willy-nilly. For instance, under the mining act of 1879 a mining company may purchase an acre of land for about $5/acre. We want to be fair, and we want to be smart.

One point I would make is that more logging jobs have been lost from automation and overlogging than from any environmental protection.

Feel free to contace me with any other questions – and I certainly apologize if your interaction with our staff wasn’t a positive one.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x