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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Good Green Week Thanks To...Bush and Kempthorne?

The Bush Administration is taking steps to save its image and legacy by embracing environmental causes. Earlier this week found Bush designating a massive National Monument in Hawaii. The word from the environmental community has been celebratory, while feelings on Bush remain unchanged. He got himself into this mess, he's gonna have to start digging himself out.

Bush designated the spot using the Antiquities Act, a law that allows a President to declare a National Monument (not a park or anything else) without passing it through Congress. Since its inception in 1906 (I was at its 100th anniversary party), the act has been used to make such famous Monuments (some of which became parks and other things) as the Grand Canyon, Arches, and Canyons of the Ancients. GW's only previous use of the Antiquities Act was the declaration of the African Burial Ground Monument in Manhattan. The only President since 1906 not to use the act? W's dad, GHW Bush.

So the week started off well. A huge new park in Hawaii, a lot of important avian breeding land protected, including the home of this little guy:

Laysan Albatross Chick from Hawaii - National Geographic

How could things get better?

Enter Dirk Kempthorne, new Interior Secretary. The environmental community has been a little on edge about how Dirk is going to run things. Most people feel assured that he won't have the unquenchable thirst for oil of his predecessor, Gail Norton, and that's good. But Kempthorne is from Idaho, a conservative Western state, and his environmental record was uncertain.

On Tuesday, though, he came out fighting for the good guys. Kempthorne rejected a plan that would allow more snowmobiles, ORVs, cell towers and other commercialization of national parks. The focus, he says, should be on conservation.

Some in the green community see the administration's actions as a temporary, desperate grasp for good publicity and have therefore adopted a "get 'em while there hot" mentality. That's fine with me. They're hot, and we're gettin' em.
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