Warning to GOP: Stripping America for Parts not a Winner

December 6, 2017

Under the Trump/Putin administration, radically empowered fossil fuel and mining interests are doing what car thieves do when they make a heist. Saw off the parts and start selling them.

Republican law makers seem wedded to the idea that “Real Americans” are all about raping the planet and handing it over to corporate vultures.

We’re not, really.

Even deep red, reliably conservative Utahans are not completely on board with Trump’s recent actions –  or Trump, for that matter, who’s a little too rapey for the state’s large Mormon population.

News item here in the Salt Lake Tribune hints at the divide, but read down in the following Mother Jones piece, which parses the polling, and changing attitudes, a little more closely.

Salt Lake Tribune:

While a slight majority of Utahns believes the new 1.3 million-acre Bears Ears National Monument is too big, they oppose by a 2-to-1 margin breaking the bigger and more-established Grand Staircase-Escalante into smaller monuments.

Those findings, from new polling commissioned by The Salt Lake Tribune and the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics, suggest Utah voters are not completely aligned with state leaders, who uniformly want those monuments erased or reduced. Female and young voters were notably more likely to endorse the large size of these two monuments, the poll found.

 

Bears Ears and Grand Staircase are at the center of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s evaluation of all large monument designations under the Antiquities Act since 1996. Previous polling found Utahns more narrowly divided over Bears Ears’ size, with a slight majority favoring a reduction.

According to a leaked memo to the White House, Zinke is recommending reductions to these and two other Western monuments.

Wise western politicians would do well especially to pay attention to changing demographics that are favoring residents who care about the environmental and recreational value of their surroundings, and Latinos, who lead all demographic groups in concern about climate change.

Mother Jones:

Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante were both created by Democratic presidents through executive orders, putting millions of acres of land in Utah off limits to grazing, coal mining, and oil and gas drilling. Trump has said he wants to “end these abuses” of presidential power and “return contol to the people, the people of all of the states, the people of the United States.” Trump announced a plan on Monday to shrink Bears Ears by 85 percent and to break up Grand Staircase-Escalante into three different monuments, reducing Escalante’s overall protected area by about half and specifically opening up much of it for coal mining that had been prevented when President Bill Clinton created the monument.

Utah politicians have complained for decades about the heavy hand of the federal government, which they believe has prevented them from exploiting fossil fuel resources on public land within the state. In 2012, the state legislature went so far as to pass legislation demanding that the government hand over control of all federal land in Utah. Residents have staged a few protests against the Bureau of Land Management over limits on the use of federally protected wilderness land—with support from the same people took up arms to prevent the land agency from confiscating cattle owned by Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy.

But despite these high-profile events, the view of public land management Trump is embracing isn’t any more popular than the president himself. A recent poll commissioned by the Salt Lake Tribune and the University of Utah found that state residents opposed shrinking Escalante by a two-to-one margin, with only 27 percent saying they believed the monument should be reduced. Escalante was created in 1996 and is largely seen as a success, thanks to the increased tourism there generated by the monument designation.

Polls on Bears Ears have been more mixed, which may in part be due to the fact that it was created just last year. In May, a poll commissioned by a Native American group in Utah found that 64 percent of residents favored keeping protections for the monument; four months later, a poll by local pollster Dan Jones & Associates found that 49 percent were in favor of shrinking its boundaries. A poll taken in January byColorado College’s State of the Rockies project, which prefaced the question on Bears Ears by explaining that the monument designation prohibits oil and gas development in the natural areas but keeps them open for recreational activities, found 47 percent support for the monument designation and 32 percent opposition.

According to the latter poll, a growing share of Utahans also believes that oil and gas drilling on public lands should be strictly limited—31 percent of poll respondents this year, compared with 19 percent in 2013—and only 9 percent believe that public lands should be fully open to drilling, down from nearly 20 percent in 2013.

The unemployment rate in Utah is currently 3.3 percent, among the lowest in the country, and that figure might help explain why state residents aren’t more interested in despoiling public lands for short-term economic gains. But there are other reasons. The state is the fastest-growing in the nation—and not just because of its high birthrate driven by large Mormon families. In-migration accounts for a significant portion of the growth. Much of the state’s appeal for newcomers comes from its ample outdoor recreational opportunities.

People in Utah also have an intimate understanding of the downside of oil and gas exploration. Salt Lake City has some of the nation’s dirtiest air. It’s been in consistent violation of Environmental Protection Agency regulations for air quality, and on some days it competes with Beijing for the world’s worst air pollution. Local doctors and midwives have raised concerns in recent years that the air pollution is leading to an unusual number of stillbirths.

The locus of support for shrinking the Utah monuments tends to be in sparsely populated southern Utah, places like San Juan County, where Bears Ears is located. But that support is almost exclusively among white people, who command a significant amount of media coverage and political attention but make up a minority of San Juan County’s 15,000 residents. The largest share of the residents is Native American—49 percent—thanks to the Navajo reservation within the county’s boundary. Latinos make up another 5 percent, leaving San Juan’s white population around 43 percent. Ninety-eight percent of local Navajos support preserving the Bears Ears monument designation.

Meanwhile, the plans to turn Alaska’s Arctic Wildlife Refuge over to drillers is unambiguously opposed by a large majority of Americans, including Republicans.

Yale Program on Climate Communication:

The tax bills that were recently approved by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives each contain a provision allowing drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The bill now heads for reconciliation by the two chambers, an up or down vote of the final bill by the House and Senate, and then to President Trump for his signature.

How do Americans feel about opening up ANWR to drilling for oil? And how much do opinions differ across partisan lines?

In our most recent nationally representative survey, conducted in late October, we found that a large majority of American voters (70%) oppose drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Those strongly opposed outnumber those who strongly support the policy by more than 4 to 1.

anwaryale

Further, majorities of Democrats (84%), Independents (64%), and Republicans (52%) oppose drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Only 18% of Republicans “strongly support” the policy.

metoo

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One Response to “Warning to GOP: Stripping America for Parts not a Winner”

  1. indy222 Says:

    Rape and pillage. That’s what the Republicans have come to represent. I pray that Mueller can see this guy impeached and his whole sulfurous lot of swamp creatures taken out with him.


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