Friday, July 17, 2015

Bishop sold his soul to the devil, and the devil is coal

Utah Representative Rob Bishop and a number of county commissioners have sold their tiny, withered, carbon-blackened souls to the devil, and the devil is coal.

Bishop is so over the top in his comment regarding new regulations for coal mines that even professional prevaricators are astounded: "Clearly, the Obama administration will stop at nothing to stomp out American livelihoods dependent on coal," said Rep. Rob Bishop, Republican chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources.

This, in response to a proposal to keep coal mines 100 feet back from streams, a proposal estimated to increase the cost of coal by one-tenth of one percent (Salt Lake Tribune, 7/17/2015).
Nevermind that the regulations will help keep water supplies used by many thousands of citizens, including children, clean.  No, the administration is not trying to keep pollution out of the water supply, it is trying to stomp out livelihoods.  According to the devil.

Utah’s elected officials are apoplectic over the possibility of a new National Monument in Utah, and are going on the offensive against the Obama administration for even thinking of designating a monument here.  And county commissioners are contradicting their own chamber of commerce to spread lies about the effect of the Grand Staircase National Monument on the local economy.

"We have communities that are disappearing. Garfield is a ghost county. This is horrific for the consequence to our state, our communities, the schools, the health of the lands," Ivory (State Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan) said, referring to a recent declaration of a "state of emergency" by Garfield County commissioners. "They are losing their schools, they are exporting their children, they are exporting their families." (Salt Lake Tribune 7/17/2015).

But the President of the Chamber of Commerce disagrees: "There is no state of emergency as far as we are concerned. It has been contrived by the county commission and the mayor," said Chamber of Commerce President Dennis Waggoner, co-owner of Escalante Outfitters. His family's resort, which employs 18, is 98 percent booked this season.

The wretched creatures propped up and put in office by the toxin-spewing extractive industries get their talking points straight from the devil’s (oops, I mean the coal industry’s public relations hacks) mouth. 

The facts are—all industries, including mining, have the potential to cause environmental damage, which is bad for our health.  There must be rules to keep them from killing people and making them sick.  Representative Bishop does not care about whether coal mines kill people, he just cares about keeping the industry happy so they keep writing him checks.  And the same for the county commissioners who think that lies loudly proclaimed will be heard and listened to.  Maybe they know their constituents better than I do.  Maybe their constituents do not care about the facts, and favor leaders who will tell them comforting lies, lies that make pollution desirable, conservation an abomination, and stewardship a mortal sin. 

Clearly the devil is at work here, and that devil is coal.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Stacking stones to make a statement

Should we stop stacking stones?

Robyn Martin has written for an end to the practice of building rock cairns in the back county.  She has some valid points, and the article has generated some healthy debate.  I think stacking stones could be a way for those who love the outdoors to communicate, to make statements about caring for the earth.  Make small cairns. Little stacks.  Stacks of love:

Stack stones in improvised ATV trails. Stack them in switchback shortcuts. Stack them by drill pads, by trash piles, by shot-up signs, on pipeline scars. Stack them to make something beautiful where people have left destruction and waste. Stack them with care. They needn't be intrusive or outrageous. Small stacks. Stacks of beauty. Stacks of love.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Saints Lyman and Bundy

Saints Lyman and Bundy

Supporters of convicted San Juan County, Utah, Commissioner and land-use protester Phil Lyman have lined up to hand him cash to help out with his defense and fines.  Utah’s Governor Herbert and Lieutenant Governor Cox were first to toss crisp bills in Lyman’s direction.  Contributions to aid someone convicted of a federal crime?  What’s going on?

And Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who hasn’t paid his grazing fees to the government for years, is visited by presidential candidate Rand Paul ( ) who says that they’re “in tune with each other.”

Now, supporters of Lyman have created an organization called the Recapture Institute (, that supports Lyman. And someone has created a T-shirt that shows Lyman alongside Gandhi, Rosa Parks, the Tiananmen Square protester, and Chief Joseph, implying that Lyman is some sort of inspirational leader of significance (  Really?  It’s much more than mere exaggeration, although it was likely done tongue-in-cheek, with an attempt at humor, the kind of silly Utah humor that led the Orem Owlz to schedule Caucasian Night.  A typical case of Utah cluelessness.

Are Bundy and Lyman heroes? 

Some apparently think so.  But who?  Oil company executives, for sure.  The Koch brothers, for instance, whose firm supports western states' efforts to take control of federal lands ( ).  The Kochs surely don’t care where Lyman and his motorhead pals ride their trail machines, but they would certainly rather deal with weak state environmental laws than have to comply with federal regulations that serve to protect the land and the health of our citizens.

Bundy and Lyman are not devils.  They are regular guys trying to get ahead.  Trying to get something that belongs to all of us for themselves.  Bumbling and self-serving, for sure, but not devils. And they, and many others, see the federal government as an obstacle, and worse, as an enemy.  (For instance, see Anne Landman’s piece on anti-government sentiment in western Colorado: ). 

They are, unfortunately, being egged on, with encouragement and piles of tainted cash, by politicians and corporate land users, people who care only about making money, even at the expense of our natural and cultural environment. People and corporations who do not care about environmental destruction and the health of our citizens, who don’t really care about Lyman’s ride on an old dirt road, priceless Anasazi cliff-dwellings, or Bundy’s cows, people who care only about their own profits. 

No, Lyman and Bundy are not saints, heroes, or even devils.  They are pawns.  Dupes.  Little people being painted as leaders by conniving capitalists intent on getting all they can for themselves, and leaving average citizens with nothing but a toxic wasteland to ride their little scooters on, scooters bought from those same corporations that conspired to scorch the earth Lyman and Bundy claim to love.