NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate provides the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, August 24th, 2017

This is what greed sounds like: Meet Utah’s own wannabe Once-ler, Republican Mike Noel

“When you turn the man­age­ment over to the tree-hug­gers, the bird and bun­ny lovers and the rock lick­ers, you turn your her­itage over.”

Repub­li­can State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mike Noel

Ever since Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma used his pow­ers under the Antiq­ui­ties Act to cre­ate Bears Ears Nation­al Mon­u­ment, the pro-greed, anti-con­ser­va­tion fac­tion of the Utah Repub­li­can Par­ty has been agi­tat­ing for the mon­u­men­t’s evisceration.

Though Don­ald Trump and his Inte­ri­or Sec­re­tary Ryan Zinke have not pro­posed doing away with Bears Ears entire­ly, Zinke has hint­ed he wants to remove a lot of lot of land from the mon­u­ment (over a mil­lion acres) which many envi­ron­men­tal groups con­tend sim­ply isn’t some­thing that can be done through exec­u­tive action.

But Zinke has yet to try to set any evis­cer­a­tion of the mon­u­ment in motion. He has deliv­ered a report to his boss as of today, but has not pub­licly dis­closed what’s in it.

“The peo­ple briefed on the plans said that along with Bears Ears, Mr. Zinke had pro­posed reduc­ing the size of Grand Stair­case-Escalante Nation­al Mon­u­ment, also in south­ern Utah, and two oth­ers,” accord­ing to The New York Times.

Grand Stair­case-Escalante Nation­al Mon­u­ment was cre­at­ed by Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton in the 1990s, and has been around much longer than Bears Ears. Of course, that’s not stop­ping the Trump regime from try­ing to mess with it.

Zinke is being egged on by Repub­li­cans like Mike Noel (a ranch­er and leg­is­la­tor), who bare­ly attempt­ed to dis­guise his glut­tony when he spoke to The NYT.

Mike Noel, a Repub­li­can state rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Utah, said that shrink­ing Bears Ears would be “a vic­to­ry for our state.” Fed­er­al man­age­ment of land in his state had con­strained drilling, min­ing and graz­ing, he said, adding that Wash­ing­ton had no busi­ness set­ting aside so much land.

Mike Noel“When you turn the man­age­ment over to the tree-hug­gers, the bird and bun­ny lovers and the rock lick­ers, you turn your her­itage over,” Mr. Noel said.

One deroga­to­ry phrase would not do for Mike Noel. No, he had to use a grand total of three: Tree-hug­gers, bird and bun­ny lovers, and rock lick­ers.

And this isn’t the first time he’s trot­ted out that stu­pid line, either:

“When we turned the for­est ser­vice over to the bird and bun­ny-lovers and the tree­hug­gers and the rock-lick­ers, we turned our his­to­ry over,” Noel said at a press con­fer­ence this week.

“And the fire is going to do more dam­age because we’re going to lose our water­shed, we’re going to lose our soils, we’re going to lose our wildlife and we’re going to lose our scenery.”

Earth to Mike Noel: You’ve got it back­wards. It’s you and your pro-devel­op­ment bud­dies who want to turn Utah’s her­itage over to the forces of greed for exploita­tion. When Pres­i­dent Oba­ma cre­at­ed Bears Ears, he was act­ing to pro­tect Utah’s her­itage from being scarred and pol­lut­ed, not scrap it.

Your speech reeks of thin­ly-veiled greed and con­tempt for those who want to pre­serve what’s left of Amer­i­ca’s wild places for future generations.

Activ­i­ties like graz­ing, drilling, and min­ing are already per­mit­ted on a sub­stan­tial per­cent­age of pub­lic lands in the West. It’s there­fore extreme­ly impor­tant that we set aside areas like Bears Ears for pro­tec­tion, preser­va­tion, and recreation.

Native Amer­i­can tribes in the South­west are strong­ly opposed to any attempt to evis­cer­ate Bears Ears. So are com­pa­nies and non­prof­its that are in the busi­ness of tourism and recre­ation. And so are a great many indi­vid­u­als — includ­ing con­ser­v­a­tive out­doors­men — who still believe in the prin­ci­ple of conservation.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, Mike Noel and his bud­dies see only dol­lar signs when they look at majes­tic places like Bears Ears, or Grand Stair­case, or the Arc­tic Refuge. The lack of roads, machines, and domes­ti­cat­ed ani­mals bugs them. Their mind­set boils down to why aren’t those lands being used up like there’s no tomor­row?

The Lorax speaks for the trees

If they get their way, we as a soci­ety will have failed to learn the very basic les­son that Dr. Seuss tried to teach us all in The Lorax back in the 1970s:

“But now,” says the Once-ler,
“Now that you’re here,
the word of the Lorax seems per­fect­ly clear.
UNLESS some­one like you
cares a whole awful lot,
noth­ing is going to get better.
It’s not.

We are the ones we’ve been wait­ing for, and it’s up to us to care a whole awful lot. Because if we don’t, noth­ing is going to get bet­ter. It’s not.

(The Lorax, inci­den­tal­ly, was Theodor Seuss Geisel’s favorite book.)

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