A View From The Overlook: Contingency Plans

One of the minor joys of flying Southwest Airlines is the patented deadpan humor that the flight attendants use to get you to listen to the most routine housekeeping and safety messages:

“We have a report of broken clouds at LAX, but we hope to have them fixed before arrival,” or, my favorite:

“In the case of loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will descend; put yours on first and then assist your child. If you have more than one child, put the oxygen mask on the child that is the cutest, most promising, and least amount of trouble.”

That last joke may be food for thought for national park partisans, depending on who wins the 2012 election. Someone might have to choose which parks are the “cutest, most promising and least amount of trouble” and which should be allowed to suffocate.

“Poppycock!” says The Old Ranger, with the worldly smile of a veteran bureaucrat. “It doesn’t matter which party is in power for the NPS! The American people love their parks! Now, some administrations are leaner than others, but it all averages out in the end; why, I don’t even bother to vote!”

Perhaps, but this election is different from others; just as these “tea party” Republicans are a bit different from Eisenhower or even Reagan Republicans. Indeed, think Madame DeFarge Republicans.

Where's Theodore Roosevelt When The GOP Needs Him?

You see, the 800-pound gorilla in the room has finally dropped the other shoe.

What, exactly would be fate of the environment under a Romney-Ryan regime?

It took some doing, but Thomas B. Edsall, writing in the September 9 New York Times managed to winkle out a fair prediction of the possible environmental results of a Romney-Ryan victory.

There is no environmental plank in the Republican platform; not even the usual boilerplate about, “Preserving our glorious parks without going fiscally overboard, etc. etc.”

Nope. According to the Times article, what will happen to the environment, the parks and other matters is to be found in another document, THE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION ON THE BUDGET, FISCAL YEAR 2013. On page 16, on the far right of the page, is nearly a trillion dollars (897 billion to be exact) in what is called “Discretionary Spending.” That is the stuff you really don’t need, like education, environmental protection, work-place safety, law enforcement, parks. All that stuff you hardly ever use if you are a billionaire.

Problem is, Congressman Ryan needs to cut just about that entire discretionary trillion slice to make his budget figures work out.

Dave Clary, a retired NPS historian, grimly remarked that full implementation of Ryan’s ideas might include eliminating the national parks.

Actually, the Tea Party Republicans would be satisfied with just eliminating the National Park Service, thank you. That would save a little over a billion dollars a years. (The more perverse Republicans would be amused to abolish the agency on the eve of its centennial SURPRISE! SURPRISE!)

“Tommyrot!” harrumphs the Old Ranger “Who would take care of the parks if the NPS was abolished?”

Let The Military Return To The Parks!

No problem! Under our new streamlined federal government, the national parks could be transferred from the Department of the Interior to the Department of Defense and the various branches of the Armed Forces would manage the parks.

Water-oriented parks such as national seashores, lakeshores, or recreation areas would be managed by the U.S. Coast Guard or the Navy. The Marines could manage desert parks and the Tenth Mountain Division of the U.S. Army would handle mountain parks such as Yosemite or Yellowstone.

An expanded U.S. Army historical division would staff military history parks. Small, non-military historical sites would be turned over to local historical societies. As mentioned, the National Park Service itself could then be abolished with commissioned law enforcement personnel transferred to Homeland Security. Non-pistolero employees would be transferred to other government agencies or subjected to Reduction In Force, (Ah well! There’s always grad school!)

Could this work?

Don’t see why not, neighbors! It was, after all, the way the early national parks were managed, courtesy of the U.S. Cavalry.

From the 1880s 'til around the time of the first World War, the U.S. Army provided for the protection, if not interpretation, of the existing parks. (One cavalry unit patrolled Yellowstone National Park in the summer time and spent the winter in the Philippines fighting guerillas and Moro tribesmen; must have been interesting duty!) To this day, the NPS has relics of its Army roots in the campaign hat and a distinctive paramilitary attitude.

But Could The Military Handle It?

But would it work well?

Probably not. Due to virtually unlimited personnel, the military could probably equal or even surpass the civilian NPS in trail maintenance, roads, and other infrastructure, as well as forest-fire management and, due to unceasing backcountry training patrols, the complete suppression of marijuana farming in the parks.

However, the public would want a bit more than that, such as answers to questions.

Through no fault of his/her own, the Tenth Mountain Division trooper stationed at Old Faithful would have to respond, “Sorry, Sir! Geology is not my MOS!” to a taxpayer's question.

Still, a military takeover of the parks would be one contingency plan.

Here’s another contingency plan. Several years ago, Owen Hoffman, a former long-term seasonal interpretive ranger, suggested the possibility of a “Ranger Reserve” made up of retired permanent NPS employees and former long-term seasonals who could be activated in the event of an NPS “emergency.”

As there was no particular “emergency” available when Dr. Hoffman proposed his “Ranger Reserve” idea, he was politely thanked and his suggestion filed in the Limbo of Interesting Ideas.

However, we now have an official, looming emergency.

That would be the celebrated “Fiscal Cliff Sequestration” that would gut many park programs, including some that are considered existentially essential to the survival of the parks that Congress has established. The Park Service director and the regional directors would be forced to make the choice as suggested by the flight attendant. That is, choosing which parks are, “The cutest, most promising, and least amount of trouble.”

“But,” you ask, “Can’t we just close the least-visited parks?”

Sorry, you can’t “close” a park. Today’s modern vandals arrive with bolt cutters, pry bars, chain saws, 4-wheel-drive vehicles, and acetylene torches. If you want to keep your park, you are going to need boots on the ground, as the California state parks found out.

Due to the catastrophic California budget crunch, they “closed” Mitchell Caverns State Park. Vandals looted the contact station and little museum and found the key to the cavern door and vandalized the cave itself.

“So, would these 'Reserve Rangers' get paid?” you might wonder.

Not bloody likely, neighbor; this is a political disaster, not a natural disaster.

"But wouldn’t this be playing into the hands of the Bad Guys? You would be spending your retirement years working for the NPS for nothing!”

No, the Reserve Rangers would be on short-term assignment, just long enough to save the parks and get us past the Tea Party lunacy.

“So, who would organize this 'Reserve Ranger' thing and would YOU sign up?"

Well, I don’t rightly know. The Coalition of Retired National Park Employees comes immediately to mind. I’ll have to ask Dr. Hoffman if he has ideas on the subject. As to the second part of the question, would I sign up? Darn tootin’! Sounds like fun!

Comments

This sort of partisan claptrap really spoils the nature-- pun intended-- of your magazine and organization. Republicans are just as capable and interested as anybody, perhaps moreso, being conservatives, of "conserving" the environment. But let's face it. If we keep running deficits like we have been, the Chinese will end up owning our National Parks and either charge us exorbitant sums to use them or will strip-mine them to power their coal industry.

Anon 7:06 is absolutely right. This is just more of the partisan speculation. They have no real evidence so just "predict" and then attack the predictions. Totally irresponsible.

Your suppositions regarding administration of the NPS sites under a Republican admin are wildly fantastic. The Federal government continues to grow outstripping the ability of taxes to pay for what it wants. Both sides of the political debate recognize that government cannot continue to borrow 40% of it's expenditures annually and ultimately, government will be trimmed in some manner. The tea party isn't the demon. Uncontrolled growth of government is.

My wife and I love the NPS system. We visit sites on every trip we take and plan some trips each year to NPS sites exclusively. It doesn't follow that we believe that the NPS (or other agencies) can continue to operate as it has and continue to grow as they have.

I worked in natural resource management for the Federal government for 40 years. Government never has enough money or people. Left to it's own devices it will continue to grow unabated. Sequestration is a cowards method to reduce spending. It takes a meat axe to everything, regardless of it's importance. We will reduce funding indescriminately to the most necessary programs like SS, Medicare, defense and to the ones we love most like NPS. The cowardice of Congress and the President to take meaningful steps to avert this crisis should alarm all Americans.

Your blatent provincialism regarding the NPS does nothing to perpetuate protection of the parks we all love. Ultimately, the 'solution' of a government unable to manage it's resources will destroy the system unless we find a way to balance our spending with Federal revenues.

The problem with this article is that it is hard to weed out the sarcasm from any possible truths. Just be straight forward with information. If, indeed, there is no environmental platform in the GOP, then say so clearly. If the GOP is considering closing parks, say so. If the GOP is talking about the army taking over parks, say so. I would share this with friends but it is way too convoluted.

The problem became much more clear to me when I heard yesterday on national news that 48% of Americans pay zero Fed. income tax--- nada. Also that the # of Americans recieving Fed assistance had increased by something like 300% in the past 25 years ??? Something ain't right......and something has to change.

Thank you PJ Ryan for an interesting and amusing op-ed. Frankly, I think there is much truth in what you have to say, at least in my own humble opinion. The NPS has generally done an excellent job with our parks as have the USFS and BLM in managing other public land units. The vast majority of these employees are top flight personnel, but of course there are exceptions, which unfortunately get most of the public attention. Its interesting to note that many congressional members are calling for severe budget cuts (but no equitable way to pay for them including a more fair and balanced tax system), but when it comes to the Defense Dept, whoa, no way. According to the Simpson/Boyles report, the US spends more on "National Defense" than nearly all the the nations of the world combined. We are spending 51% of the total federal budget on defense (excluding ss, medicare and interest on the national debt) as compared to China's 7% (the next largest military spender). In any case you can find stats to support almost any argument, and I do agree that a balanced approach to reducing the national debt is important. According again to Simpson/Boyles, the top five priorities are health care reform, defense spending, ss, interest on the debt and tax reform. But they stressed that everyone would have to set aside their lobbying interests to get this done. That is going to be tough to do with the special interest advocates that basically control Washington with hugh amounts of money. We will see, it is an interesting debate.

If you're upset with PJ's style don't ever read anything written by Jonathan Swift!


According to the Simpson/Boyles report, the US spends more on "National Defense" than nearly all the the nations of the world combined.


Not even close/ World $1,735 billion. US $711 billion.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures


We are spending 51% of the total federal budget on defense (excluding ss, medicare and interest on the national debt)


Why exclude SS, medicare and interest other than to pad your number - since China doesn't have any of those things. Fact is Defense is 25% of the federal budget and is currently near the lows of the last century.

Yes, we need a balanced approach - higher tax revenues (stimulated by lower tax rates- which worked for Kennedy, Reagan and Bush) and lower regulation as well as lower and more efficient spending - especially on entitlements.

Tax rates under Obama have been lower than those of Presidents Reagan, Clinton and Bush. Fact. See CBO.

The comment about about "less regulation" is obviously simplistic. The questions is what should be regulated and how in order to sustain a healthy economy. Here's an article on the mixed results of regulation:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/regulations-an-economic-burden-to-manufacturers-report-says/2012/08/20/3aa4501a-eb01-11e1-9ddc-340d5efb1e9c_story.html

And here's one on how deregulation and the global financial crisis show the need for (re) regulation in order to safeguard the economy:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/09/19/us-goldmansachs-canada-ceo-idUSBRE88I18J20120919

Tax rates under Obama have been lower than those of Presidents Reagan, Clinton and Bush. Fact. See CBO.

Hmm - since the current tax rates are the Bush tax rates - tell us, how are Obama's lower?

Reply to Anonymous,September 19, 2012 - 8:27am.

The evidence is presented in paragraph eleven:

"There is no environmental plank in the Republican platform; not even the usual boilerplate about, “Preserving our glorious parks without going fiscally overboard, etc. etc.”

I see J, so if there is no plank, that means he wants to destory it. LOL

Oh, and by the way J. There is in fact a lengthy discussion of environmental issues in the Republcian Platform. The article above is just flat out wrong on that fact.

I encourage people to actually read the platform rather than swallow hook line and sinker the claims that are being made about what it does and doesn't say.

I enjoyed this article; sorry to see that PJ's slightly cynical perspective and subtle humor do not find much appreciation here. My response would be that we don't need a DOD contingency plan for military takeover of the parks, just of the NPS D.C. & Regional Offices. ;o)

If it comes down to it, the military could hardly do worse than the "paramilitary" crooks that brought us the disgraceful Ranger Danno debacle, spent millions persecuting Indian Trader Billy Malone, and promoted bribe-taking Superintendent Uberuaga to head Grand Canyon. Now they threaten us with closures if their top-heavy budget is cut.

At least military or NGO management would get the national parks out of the Sodom & Gomorrah that is the Department of Interior.

Unfortunately, it's quite likely that corporations would increase their already large influence over park management under a Romney regime.

Anon,

Google CBO, taxes rates Obama, Reagan, and Bush. The first story that comes up details how tax rates are at a 30-year low. Lots of news stories (all google-able) ran stories on the CBO report. Hard to have missed it.

Here's may favorite part of the GOP platform:


The most powerful environmental policy is liberty, the central organizing principle of the American Republic and its people. Liberty alone fosters scientific inquiry, technological innovation, entrepreneurship, and information exchange. Liberty must remain the core energy behind America's environmental improvement.

Ron, you are a gentleman, scholar, and very wise man and there a darn few of us left!

PJ

As always, PJ, great "claptrap". Comparison to Jonathan Swift is high praise. The world needs more social picadores such as you.

details how tax rates are at a 30-year low.

The top marginal income tax rate currently is 35% (set with the Bush tax cuts). 1987 to 1992 they were between 28% and 31%. When Bushed dropped it from 39.6% (along with other rate cuts) we had a surge in revenue over the next five years.


The problem became much more clear to me when I heard yesterday on national news that 48% of Americans pay zero Fed. income tax--- nada. Also that the # of Americans recieving Fed assistance had increased by something like 300% in the past 25 years ??? Something ain't right......and something has to change.


It seems that about half of Americans don't pay federal income tax. But they do pay federal tax: payroll taxes (FICA). I think about 92% of Americans pay FICA or another federal tax (such as income tax). And FICA is a pretty heavy burden. It is a tax on work, not income.

It's probably true that we're almost all clamped to the federal government's benefit teat, but that includes all of us with mortgages (income tax deduction) or anyone who visits public lands for free or low cost.

One reason there is a lot of assistance to the poor like food stamps and Medicaid is that the U.S. is going dramatically in the wrong direction in terms of income and wealth equality. We have a lot of struggling people and a shrinking middle class. Both political parties are to blame, but only the Republicans seem to embrace with enthusiasm the policies that are leading to this doleful situation.

I spent some time in Brazil in the 1980s when it was woefully unequal. You'd sit at a restaurant table and street urchins, ages perhaps 8-14, would cluster in the background and grab the food off your plate as soon as you gestured that you were done. It kept them alive and amounted to an informal social welfare program: the waiters served you too much food, you knew not to eat all of it, and the waiters looked the other way as a bunch of hands reached around you and grabbed your food. Eventually you would scarcely notice it.

You don't see that in Brazil anymore, because it has a better social safety net and doesn't fritter away its wealth on maintaining a giant empire with endless adventures abroad (historically a sure-fire route to bankruptcy). But a friend told me that it happened at a restaurant in Berkeley, Calif., theother day. This friend saw it directly. It is not good.


Biker says It is a tax on work, not income.


Could you tell me what that means? FICA is (was supposed to be) a retirement investment account. Medicare an insurance program. These aren't "taxes". The fact the gov't stole from these accounts is reason enough to not trust such valuable programs (investment and insurance) to the govt.

"wrong direction in terms of income and wealth equality."

Wrong direction in terms of income? Yes, we have hit the lowest medium income in 27 years under Obama. "Wealth equality" - a bankrupt concept. The only way to "wealth equality" is for everyone to be poor. I would much rather the richest be a billion times richer than the poorest than to have everyone be poor.

It's like an SNL parody. Liberty is a floorwax and a dessert topping.

Meanwhile, in Utah, Republican Rob Bishop is running for re-election to Utah's first congressional district seat and is pledging to work to repeal the Antiquities Act.

How is it that the Mormon State of Utah has evolved to become so anti-Christ politically ?

Surely, all those Christians would support all environmentally-sound projects and programs

to protect, sustain the living Creation dependent upon natural habitats within Public Lands ?

Whatever happened to Human Compassion toward the Christ's Creation ?

http://www.historyguy.com/american_history/antiquities_act_of_1906.html

http://www.cr.nps.gov/local-law/anti1906.htm

http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread722575/pg1


Are Evangelicals and conservative Christians the Anti-Christ?

In the tribal conditions of the ancient world, it is not surprising that Christians would be hated.

Revelation shows the destruction of all except God’s chosen. Evangelicals andliteralistic, pray for this genocidal destruction to happen in their lifetimes. That is a lot of hate coming from those who profess to love all of mankind. Some would say that these so called Christians, are not of good heart and do not follow their own religion, bible or a loving Christ.

Romans 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Some would in fact say that these Christians are traitors to the society they hate.

In the old tribal days, and even today, those who do not believe as Evangelicals,literalists and conservative Christians do, would see these as traitors and haters and would get their backs up, as most humans being would automatically do, and hate these Christian traitors right back. It is no wonder then, and some ancients would say quite fittingly, that these traitors should be fed to the lions. Hate being returned for the hate that these Christians show to society.

It is not too surprising then to see why Christians were persecuted in the old days. They deserved it as far as the other tribes were concerned as they were showing hate for all others in wishing and praying for their death in this life as well as everlasting torture for eternity in the next.

What a game for your God to play if such were true!
Create a place for eternal bliss as well as a place for eternal suffering.
Then create beings whom he loves dearly and watches over.
And in the end, decide which to consider "trash" and "throw away" into the place for eternal suffering and which to cling to and love in the place for eternal bliss.
Even man, with all his faults, is greater and more responsible.

Evangelicals and followers of Jesus should thank God that they live in a world that has lost some of it’s tribal ways, not themselves of course, and society allow these who hate them so much, to remain untouched in today’s environment.

These Evangelicals and literalist believers think themselves as followers of Christ yet Christ was of love while they are of hate. They are anti their own bible as shown with Rom 12;21. If the bible is the word of God as they believe it is, then they are anti-bible and therefore, biblically speaking, Anti-Christ. They definitely are not cut from the same cloth that Jesus was.

Are these Evangelicals and literalist believers the Anti-Christ of scripture?

Replies to Anonymous of 9/20 at 7:53 pm MDT . . .

1. FICA is a payroll tax, traditionally split between the employer and the employee (right now employees are getting a break). So it's an exaction on income earned by working, rather than income from other sources. Meaning it's a work-based tax. Yes, I do recall that even the federal government insists that FICA isn't a tax but a contribution to social security. But it amounts to an ad valorem tax based on work income, no matter how it's characterized.

The figures on income inequality speak for themselves, and again I invite people to take a trip of a few weeks to a country with high income inequality to see how unpleasant it can be, not only for the poor, but also for the rich. It's a drag to live with bodyguards, drive armored cars, and hide behind high walls topped with glass shards. I would imagine Nigeria is like this.

As for wealth equality, it's true that it's not as easily achievable, and I'd have to think more about it before insisting that it's unreservedly desirable. But no, wealth equality doesn't have to mean everyone's poor. It could mean the situation in New Zealand, where, if I recall correctly, the richest person is worth $300 million and the middle class is robust. Although Obama himself asserted the other day that every country in the world would trade places with the U.S., I am sure that's not true. I don't think New Zealanders would enjoy a society of tycoons who have too much money to know what to do with it on the one hand and homeless veterans on the other. Canadians, too, seem to prefer not being Americans, although Canada has its own flaws that Canadians may not perceive that well, since they're immersed in their society the way we are in ours.

Biker, we obviously have different visions and different understandings on economics and psychology. SS was established as a retirement plan, it was to no more be a tax than is an IRA or a 401k. The inly fifyference was that is was mandatory. Unfortunately, the government stole from the fund and it is on its way to bankruptcy. It is but one of many examples of government intrusion screwing the people and the economy. People would have been far better off investing those monies themselves.

As to wealth and income equality, you like New Zealand. Tell me, what was the last great invention out of New Zealand? How about the last life saving drug or medical procedure they developed? What major technologies are they credited with? What entertainers built their career in NZ? Fact is nothing of note other than sheep and wine (two natural resources) have come from that country. The US has led the world in all these things. The potential to create wealth in the US has raised the standard of living here and around the world. Wealth equality equals mediocrity. The ability to create wealth leads to Initiative, invention and growth.

Wealth equality is probably a poor choice of word. I don't think that anybody has an issue with an entrepreneur becoming a billionaire off of its invention/creation (Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, etc.), however, hired managers (most CEOs) making 10 or 100 of $m while some of their employees are working poor is obscene. A bachelor degree, at the current rate of inflation, will shortly be out of reach for most working stiffs. Since education is the biggest opportunity equalizer, we should all be worried.

We strayed a bit, but I don't like dogmatic statements.


hired managers (most CEOs) making 10 or 100 of $m while some of their employees are working poor is obscene.


By whose standard? Who should determine the differential in pay between a CEO and the company's lowest paid worker? You? Obama? Some panel with no skin in the game? I think that determination should be made by the owners of the company. After all, its their money not yours or anyone elses. If they don't think they are getting their value from the CEO, then they wouldn't pay them what they do.

I suspect you haven't worked with any CEOs to see how critical their contributions really are.


There are plenty of CEO's who select/choose a Board of cronies, close loyal friends, who

have no issue "rubber-stamping' "obscene pay raises" and are anti-union; so, to hell with

the working poor. Just examine the historic corruption in Bernie Madoff's Firm, Worldcom,

and Enron. Large Corporate CEO Ethics are the Donald Trump-Style: Arrogant ! Within NPS,

Federal Executive ranks, Management SUPPORTS Management, No MATTER the SIN

IF A LOWER RANKED INDIVIUDAL SENT E-MAILS LIKE IN THIS 2006 YELLOWSTONE N.P. EXAMPLE,
THEY WOULD BE FIRED OR TRANSFERRED TO THE WASH., D.C. INTERIOR BLDG. BASEMENT !

HTTP://WWW.NEWWEST.NET/INDEX.PHP/MAIN/ARTICLE/
NO_JOKING_THIS_SATIRE_ABOUT_HUNTING_YELLOWSTONE_
SNOWMOBILES_GOT_PARK_PLANNE/

This tidbit is from today's National Park Digest. It was posted under "Weekly Legislative Activities Report:"

"On September 21st, the House passed by a vote of 233-175 H.R. 3409 (Johnson, R-OH-6), the Stop the War on Coal Act of 2012, which would limit federal regulation of coal mining and coal-fired power generation. As passed by the House, the bill includes an amendment sponsored by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ-1) that would limit the ability of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate the Navajo Generating Station in northern Arizona. The Department has not taken a position on the bill in its current form. "

The Republican Party is not a friend of the earth.

Whats unfriendly about producing the electricity for your Prius?

PJ,

Thanks again for your sense of humor, how ever "poppycock" and "Tommyrot" are not the words I would have used! I know, you couldn't have printed the words I would have used. I've also been around long enough now to never say never. It could happen.


[= 14px; line-height: 18px; background-color: #ffffff]By whose standard? Who should determine the differential in pay between a CEO and the company's lowest paid worker? You? Obama? Some panel with no skin in the game? I think that determination should be made by the owners of the company. After all, its their money not yours or anyone elses. If they don't think they are getting their value from the CEO, then they wouldn't pay them what they do.[/]

I suspect you haven't worked with any CEOs to see how critical their contributions really are.

And your suspicion is wrong. :) I've been close to quite a few. You'll notice that CEO's pay is almost never submitted to shareholder approval. One can only wonder why. Not that I am a tree hugger union lover either, actually far from it. I'm just a pragmatist who calls it like I see it.


There are plenty of CEO's who select/choose a Board of cronies, close loyal friends, who

have no issue "rubber-stamping' "obscene pay raises"


And those "Board of cronies" are voted on by the shareholders (owners) of the company. It is their investment, their money. They can vote for or against those boards. Who are you to determine what is "obscene" about someone elses money?

And notice how self correcting the process is. Where are Madoff, Enron and Worldcom now?


One can only wonder why.


Because there is an elected Board of Directors that do that job. If the shareholders don't like what the Board is paying the CEO, they can vote them out.

"Whats unfriendly about producing the electricity for your Prius?"

Nothing. (Although I don't have a Prius.)

Nothing. Not as long as it's done with proper safeguards. Safeguards our Republican friends want to scrap.

So Lee, what specific "safeguards" are you concerned about? Please be specific. What do the Republicans want to scrap and how will that be damaging?

Yes, what fears do you have that are "reality" based and not absurd leftist propaganda, Lee? The world is turning into merde and needs adults making decisions (for a change). That goes for both sides of the isle but we need to be adults before they will :)!

I'm guessing that the anons out there are either trolls or are too young to remember the days before the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. The safeguards are in those acts. Acts that some of our Congresscritters want to eliminate. They are trying to exempt certain plants from installation of equipment that will further reduce pollution output.

Here's a letter I wrote to one of them recently:

"I was a national park ranger at Wupatki-Sunset Crater National Monuments just north of Flagstaff, Arizona when the San Juan Power Plant first went on line.

Prior to opening of the plant, we had clear views across the Little Colorado Valley to the Hopi Mesas. Immediately after the plant fired up, those views disappeared as clouds of fly ash belched from the plant's stacks.

At the time, most of the pollution created by the plant was visible. It consisted mainly of a reddish colored fly ash. I'm a pilot and frequently flew from Flagstaff to meetings at the headquarters of our Navajo Lands Group at Farmington, New Mexico. Farmington was just downwind of the Four Corners Power Plant located just outside of Farmington.

Farmington was in a position to receive fly ash and other pollutants from both Four Corners and the Navajo plant near Page, Arizona. People who lived downwind from both plants had to wipe red dust from their cars every morning. On one flight to Farmington, I was unable to land at the airport because visibility was below minimums for a safe landing. That morning had been a bright blue day until I was about five miles southwest of Farmington. I had to fly on to Cortez, Colorado and rent a car to return to my meeting.

While it's true that scrubbers installed a couple of years later do clean most of the visible pollution from the plants' emissions, most of the invisible pollutants remain. These chemicals react with sunlight to produce photochemical smog that still seriously reduces visibility in the region.

Besides reducing visibility, that chemical cloud has other debilitating effects on a variety of ecological systems including acid rains, heavy metals, and a catalog of other harmful substances.

As an American who loves my country and values the irreplaceable scenery and ecosystems of the Southwest, I urge you to stand up and help protect this resource and the people, plants and animals who must share the land with power plants."

I agree that the world is turning into merde -- but it's certainly not the so-called "liberals" who are producing it.

Anon, you can read bill by going to Thomas. Then you can decide what is absurd and what is not:

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d112:h.r.3409:

Nice letter, Lee. It fits squarely within the context of the Republicans' awful H.R. 3409.

Am beginning to wonder if your view ends at the park boundaries, Lee. I understand your point but these guys aren't your John Kennedy Democrats. Look at every Leftist/Communist Country around the world and their record of sensitivity to the environment or social issues. Things are out of wack and getting wackier by the moment. Old grudges need to be put aside, I believe.

Like the grudges against people labeled - right or wrong - as "Leftist/Communist"? Sorry, anonymous person, but I fought against communists in Korea, and haven't seen many of those kinda bad guys around here in a long time.

Please at least try to update your prejudices from the Cold War, eh?

Democrats = Communists?! Can someone post a link to a political science class? At any university? Maybe we can then get back to a reasonable conversation about our national parks.

Well Lee, as I suspected you couldn't be specific. You can't identify any safeguard that is being scraped by 3409 or any specific damage. Its just a Republican bill that will create/protect jobs so it must be bad.

Well, anon, there's always H.R. 1505, which, if passed, would waive for Homeland Security a slew of regulations and laws, ranging from the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Air Act to the National Environmental Policy Act and Safe Drinking Water Act.....heck, it would even allow the Border Patrol to build "forward operating bases" in national parks.

http://thomas.loc.gov/home/gpoxmlc112/h1505_rh.xml

And thats bad? Which do you think does more damage. A few border guards or 12 million illegal aliens?

While it's true that scrubbers installed a couple of years later do clean most of the visible pollution from the plants' emissions, most of the invisible pollutants remain.

Interesting you make that claim. Others don't seem to agree.

"In 2009, PNM completed a 4-year, $320 million environmental upgrade that significantly reduced four main plant emissions:

  • nitrogen oxide

  • sulfur dioxide

  • particulate matter

  • mercury

The American Lung Association and World Health Organization have rated San Juan County as having some of the best air quality in the nation."

http://www.pnm.com/systems/sj-env-upgrade.htm

"best" isn't good enough for you. It has to be perfect any any cost.

Let's not forget HR 4089, the bill that would open most national park areas to hunting, trapping and recreational shooting. An amendment that would have excluded all areas of the National Park System from the provisions of the bill was defeated in the House of Representatives.

Rick