LIBERTY, ECOLOGY, AND PROSPERITY

Trump’s Monumental Course Reversal

Trump’s Monumental Course Reversal

As part of his program to remove the government’s boot-heel off the neck of state governments and American workers and businesses, candidate Donald Trump promised to review and, where appropriate, reverse where he felt it was justified, national monuments declared not just by Obama but going back two decades. As I discussed here, using the Antiquities Act has been a favorite technique of many presidents to satisfy pressures from environmentally powerful constituents.

Within months of taking office, Trump issued an executive order directing then-Interior Department secretary Ryan Zinke to review all presidential monument designations or expansions of more than 100,000 acres since January 1, 1996, to ensure they were limited strictly to the smallest area necessary to care for the objects or features to be protected. At the time, Trump called the size and number of national monuments created by Obama “an egregious abuse of power.

Going back to January 1, 1996, was not coincidental. At that time President Bill Clinton created the 1,880,461-acre Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, in Utah, also against the state’s entire congressional delegation’s wishes. The Grand Staircase declaration was as controversial in its time as the 2016 Bears Ears designation by Obama.

By September 2017, Zinke recommended the president shrink the size and/or modify the management of at least 10 national monuments. In particular, Zinke recommended reducing the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah, Nevada’s Gold Butte, and Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou. He also recommended shrinking two marine monuments in the Pacific Ocean and amending the proclamations for 10 monuments to allow for various commercial activities previously allowed in these areas but now restricted.

On December 5, 2017, Trump reduced the size of the Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument by approximately 800,000 acres, to just over 1 million acres, and shrunk the Bears Ears National Monument from 1.35 million acres to 201,876 acres.

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Stop Pretending to Cut Carbon Emissions. Engineer a Solution.

From James Conca at Forbes:

Since we are failing to curb global carbon emissions at all, we are left with using our huge brains, which got us into this problem in the first place, to try to wangle our way out of it.

Whether that’s solar engineering [sending back a small fraction of sunlight] or cloud seeding to reduce incident solar radiation, or reforestation, or carbon capture and sequestration from burning fossil fuels, or ocean iron fertilization or putting huge mirrors in space, humans think we can engineer our way around any issue. The best most direct strategy, that has the least bad side-effects, is to remove carbon directly from the atmosphere and make something useful out of it – like fuel – that would further lessen the burden on the environment.

One company is already doing that.

Based in Canada, Carbon Engineering’s Direct Air Capture system directly removes CO2 from the atmosphere, purifies it, and produces a pipeline-ready compressed CO2 liquid using only energy and water. This CO2 can be combined with non-fossil fuel-generated hydrogen, to produce ultra-low carbon intensity hydrocarbon fuels such as gasoline, diesel, and Jet Fuel-A.

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“California’s Dark Ages”

From the Wall Street Journal editorial page:

Californians are learning to live like the Amish after investor-owned utility PG&E this week shut off power to two million or so residents to prevent wildfires amid heavy, dry winds.

For years the utility skimped on safety upgrades and repairs while pumping billions into green energy and electric-car subsidies to please its overlords in Sacramento.

Suddenly, Californians are learning to love fossil fuels. Stores have experienced runs on oil lamps—yes, those still exist—and emergency generators fueled by gasoline, propane or diesel.

Most batteries that store solar power can’t keep homes charged for more than a day during a blackout, and most electric-car owners won’t have enough juice to escape the power outage. Still, liberals in Sacramento want to abolish fossil fuels.

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What ‘Environmental Studies’ Means These Days

From a Bates College (Maine) ad for an assistant professor in environmental studies:

We seek a scholar or scholar/practitioner in cultural studies, literature, or performing/studio arts who is attentive to hierarchies of power and privilege and can offer cross-cultural and/or transnational perspectives on environmental traditions.

Fields and research approaches are open, but could include: critical race theory, ecocriticism and nature writing, ecofeminism/feminist environmentalism, energy humanities, indigenous and post-colonial/decolonial/decolonizing environmentalisms, posthumanism and animal studies, and queer ecologies. Applicants with a demonstrated record of working successfully with a diversity of students, including underrepresented and marginalized populations, are encouraged to apply.

We specifically seek applications from individuals with the ability to contribute to the continuing commitment of both the Environmental Studies Program and Bates to equity and inclusion, social and cultural diversity, and the transformative power of our differences.

HT-Campus Reform

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Monumental Abuse of the Antiquities Act, Part I

The 1906 Antiquities Act was one of the most ill-considered laws ever written, giving presidents dictatorial power to declare large swaths of the public’s land off limits to a variety of uses normally allowed on federal lands. Under President Barack Obama, this power turned into a monument acquisition spree.

The Antiquities Act grants the president discretionary power “to declare by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest … to be national monuments.” Congress originally passed the law as an emergency measure to prevent the looting of antiquities on Indian lands. It was intended, as the debate surrounding it shows, only to be used when public lands or artifacts faced immediate threats of destruction and the normal pace of congressional action might take too long to prevent harm.

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About this blog

This blog is about appreciating the environment and protecting it using the tools of economics. Your blog manager is Jane Shaw Stroup, a former senior fellow of the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC).

We are grateful to the Goodman Institute for providing this opportunity.

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Please note: We are affiliated with the Goodman Institute, a virtual think tank founded and operated by John Goodman. The institute’s mission is to find private alternatives to government programs that aren’t working. These areas include health care, taxation, entitlement, and environmental protection. John Goodman is one of the leading experts in health care, and the Goodman Institute works with many prominent thinkers.

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