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Where’s a new Teddy when we need him? PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ozaukee Press   
Wednesday, 13 December 2017 16:03

Good old Teddy Roosevelt.
    Government officials love to publicly praise the charismatic 26th president of the United States. If only more of them would act like him.
    In his letter to the editor in last week’s Ozaukee Press announcing he would not seek re-election, Port Washington Mayor Tom Mlada cited Theodore Roosevelt as his inspiration in serving his city. Roosevelt is a fine exemplar for public servants, even small-town mayors, but it is a stretch to think he would have approved of Mlada’s relentless effort to sell public land overlooking the water for a commercial development called the Blues Factory.
    Roosevelt’s legacy, after all, is his saving of millions of acres of America’s land from commercial development by protecting it in the public trust.
    On a national scale, even officials who are attacking that legacy grasp for some of TR’s reflected glory. Ryan Zinke, the secretary of the interior, frequently compares himself to Roosevelt and in an asinine display of self-aggrandizement rode a horse to his first day of work in the Trump administration in imitation of the great conservationist who took office as president 117 years ago. Now Zinke is leading his boss’s assault on public lands that were designated as national monuments under the authority of the Antiquities Act of 1906, which historians consider one of Theodore Roosevelt’s greatest achievements.
    President Trump, who Vice President Mike Pence has said is “reminiscent of President Teddy Roosevelt,” last week withdrew two million acres of land precious for its majestic landscape and Native American antiquities from two national monuments in Utah. Other national monument lands are on a list compiled by the interior secretary as candidates to be stripped of federal protection.
    No justification would suffice for abandoning public lands as valuable for their unique and irreplaceable natural and cultural features as these, but the Trump administration’s attempt at a rationale is remarkably flaccid—that America needs the fossil fuels buried in the lands.
    It is true that business interests in Utah have lusted for years for the coal and oil buried in the Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bear Ears monuments that Trump has now made vulnerable, but with many energy producers rejecting coal as too dirty and the country awash in cheap oil and natural gas, there is no benefit to the nation in mining and pumping these modest reserves, especially at the cost of damaging nature in some of its most beautiful manifestations.
    There are no national monument lands or waters in Wisconsin, but there is much in the environment of this state—long considered the cradle of the conservation movement—that needs protection.
    Like Trump, Gov. Scott Walker has been busy weakening environmental protection under the sham argument that complying with regulations is a hardship for business.
    Seeming to take a page out of the Trump environmental protection dismantling manual, Walker this month appointed an outspoken political foe of the Department of Natural Resources, former Ozaukee County Board member Jake Curtis, as the agency’s chief legal counsel, a move reminiscent of Trump’s appointment of Scott Pruitt, who proposed doing away with the Environmental Protection Agency, as the agency’s administrator.
    Walker topped his already dismal environmental record earlier this year by making the Foxcon electronics plant to be built in Racine county exempt from the environmental protection rules every other business in the state is required to follow.
    Foxcon will not even have to file an environmental impact statement for a plant that is expected to be three times larger than the Pentagon under the free environmental passes Walker threw in to sweeten a pot that was already full with $3 billion in taxpayer subsidies for the company.
    At least Walker has not, as far as we know, named Teddy Roosevelt as one of his personal heroes. Thank goodness. The name of the legendary protector of America’s natural assets has already been taken in vain far too often.

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