FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Environmental Collaborators, Hang Your Heads in Shame

Clearcut, Coast Range. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

The so-called “collaborative” movement in Montana was launched as the Consensus Council about 25 years ago during the administration of Republican Gov. Marc Racicot. Its task, supposedly, was to find solutions to thorny natural resource issues. Its members were hand-picked by Racicot to represent industry and other “stakeholders,” and of course the outcomes were predictably that industry always got most of what it wanted at the cost of Montana’s natural environment.

Not much has changed since then and those so-called conservationists and environmentalists who have collaborated with industry — while hauling in enormous sums of money from collaboration-friendly foundations — should hang their heads in shame over their sell-out of the very natural assets they claimed to protect.

Leading the long list of incredible failures by the collaborators would be their efforts to prevent the sage grouse from being placed on the endangered species list just a few short years ago. After many months of collaborative meetings, the committee appointed by Gov. Steve Bullock finally came up with their plan to save the sage grouse from extinction while simultaneously allowing road-building, oil and gas drilling, coal mining, ranching and development to continue without undue disruption.

When the plan was forwarded to Bullock, the first thing he did was cut the recommended distance of industrial activities from sage grouse mating grounds, called “leks,” nearly in half — from one mile to six-tenths of a mile — after pressure from industry groups and in a move consistent with Bullock’s “moderate and pragmatic” political image.

Yet, even after basically having their feet cut out from under them, the collaborators tried to paint keeping the sage grouse from receiving the protections of the Endangered Species Act as a victory, with many claiming they could “always make changes later.”

Well, it’s later. And no, there aren’t going to be any changes to the sage grouse plan that will be even remotely positive for the birds. In fact, as with many species teetering on the brink of non-existence, it’s just the opposite. In a continuing denial of on-the-ground reality, the Trump administration not only opened even more public lands to drilling, mining and destruction, it went directly after the Endangered Species Act itself to make it even harder for any species, no matter its potential extinction, to be listed and protected by the act.

Add to Trump’s disastrous environmental policies the faster-than-expected impacts from an ever-hotter planet and the collaborators can look back on their pitiful record of non-accomplishment and realize, as so many others are now doing, that they got snookered.

Streams in Alaska are so hot they’re killing hundreds of thousands of salmon before they can even spawn as rivers that have supported millions of salmon are now registering water temperatures of 82 degrees — a heat level more amenable to tropical fish and fatal to cold water salmonids.

Nor is Alaska alone in heat-caused salmon deaths. The Snake and Columbia River basin lost 250,000 adult salmon in 2015 to heat stress and, with no help forthcoming from Trump’s benighted administration, environmentalists are going to court — not the collaborative table — to attempt to save the dwindling salmon.

As environmental calamities stack up it’s evident that pushing off urgently needed corrections while collaborators conduct endless meetings is a dead-end road, literally, for the growing list of endangered species.

It’s time to put the collaboration movement back in the industry-designed box from which it came — and for the collaborators to admit their failures and get on with either fighting for the environment or give up their sorry charade of doing so.

More articles by:

George Ochenski is a columnist for the Missoulian, where this essay originally appeared.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
November 15, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Meet Ukraine: America’s Newest “Strategic Ally”
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Frankenstein Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Ukraine in the Membrane
Jonathan Steele
The OPCW and Douma: Chemical Weapons Watchdog Accused of Evidence-Tampering by Its Own Inspectors
Kathleen Wallace
A Gangster for Capitalism: Next Up, Bolivia
Andrew Levine
Get Trump First, But Then…
Thomas Knapp
Trump’s Democratic Critics Want it Both Ways on Biden, Clinton
Ipek S. Burnett
The United States Needs Citizens Like You, Dreamer
Michael Welton
Fundamentalism as Speechlessness
David Rosen
A Century of Prohibition
Nino Pagliccia
Morales: Bolivia Suffers an Assault on the Power of the People
Dave Lindorff
When an Elected Government Falls in South America, as in Bolivia, Look For a US Role
John Grant
Drones, Guns and Abject Heroes in America
Clark T. Scott
Bolivia and the Loud Silence
Manuel García, Jr.
The Truthiest Reality of Global Warming
Ramzy Baroud
A Lesson for the Palestinian Leadership: Real Reasons behind Israel’s Arrest and Release of Labadi, Mi’ri
Charles McKelvey
The USA “Defends” Its Blockade, and Cuba Responds
Louis Proyect
Noel Ignatiev: Remembering a Comrade and a Friend
John W. Whitehead
Casualties of War: Military Veterans Have Become America’s Walking Wounded
Patrick Bond
As Brazil’s ex-President Lula is Set Free and BRICS Leaders Summit, What Lessons From the Workers Party for Fighting Global Neoliberalism?
Alexandra Early
Labor Opponents of Single Payer Don’t  Speak For Low Wage Union Members
Pete Dolack
Resisting Misleading Narratives About Pacifica Radio
Edward Hunt
It’s Still Not Too Late for Rojava
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
Why Aren’t Americans Rising up Like the People of Chile and Lebanon?
Nicolas Lalaguna
Voting on the Future of Life on Earth
Jill Richardson
The EPA’s War on Science Continues
Lawrence Davidson
The Problem of Localized Ethics
Richard Hardigan
Europe’s Shameful Treatment of Refugees: Fire in Greek Camp Highlights Appalling Conditions
Judith Deutsch
Permanent War: the Drive to Emasculate
David Swanson
Why War Deaths Increase After Wars
Raouf Halaby
94 Well-Lived Years and the $27 Traffic Fine
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Coups-for-Green-Energy Added to Wars-For-Oil
Andrea Flynn
What Breast Cancer Taught Me About Health Care
Negin Owliaei
Time for a Billionaire Ban
Binoy Kampmark
Business as Usual: Evo Morales and the Coup Condition
Bernard Marszalek
Toward a Counterculture of Rebellion
Brian Horejsi
The Benefits of Environmental Citizenship
Brian Cloughley
All That Gunsmoke
Graham Peebles
Why is there so Much Wrong in Our Society?
Jonah Raskin
Black, Blue, Jazzy and Beat Down to His Bones: Being Bob Kaufman
John Kendall Hawkins
Treason as a Lifestyle: I’ll Drink to That
Manuel García, Jr.
Heartrending Antiwar Songs
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
Poetry and Political Struggle: The Dialectics of Rhyme
Ben Terrall
The Rise of Silicon Valley
David Yearsley
Performance Anxiety
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail