Friday, September 30, 2005

Environmentalism for the Rich

House Republicans, concerned as ever that the Endangered Species Act is preventing rich people from making money, has just voted in an overhaul of the law that leaves no developer behind (remember when I said that everything Republicans do is designed to help big business in some way or another?).

The main change in the new act is this: If a developer wants to cut down a forest to build a strip mall, and the EPA decides that building that mall will kill off an endangered species, the government must pay that developer the money they would have made on the development. So, if you're a real-estate mogul, all you have to do is buy sensitive land, declare your intention to rape it, and the government will pay you not to do that. Sweet deal, eh? For everyone but the taxpayers and endangered plants and animals, because the government will be in a position of deciding how much money they're willing to spend to protect a habitat. When faced with the choice of protecting a snail, or paying a developer $50 million not to build something, what do you think Republicans are going to choose?

As West Virginia Representative Rick Nahall put it, the bill represents a "dangerous precedent that private individuals must be paid to comply with an environmental law. What's next? Paying citizens to wear seat belts? This bill will not improve species' ability to recover."

The twisted "bright side" to all of this is that other revisions to the bill make it almost impossible for the feds to designate an area as protected habitat, so there's little to stand in the way of building that mall in the first place. Worse, it allows the Secretary of the Interior (a political appointee) to decide the scientific criteria which will be used to determine whether a development will harm a habitat. A rival bill that would create a team of scientists to advise him was defeated.

The Republicans' justification for all of this? Well they can't just come out and say that they're pandering to their rich developer friends and campaign contributors, so they came up with this gem: they simply claim that the Endangered Species Act does nothing to protect species anyway, so we might as well gut it so someone can make some cash instead.

Republican voters (especially the ones that make $100k/year or less): Is this what you wanted? Do you know you voted for a party that cares only about millionaires and doesn't give a crap about the poor, middle class, or environment? Suckers...


Post a Comment

<< Home