Noah, New and Improved: the Endangered Species Act Under Trump

Bald Eagle, Driscoll Slough, Oregon. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

So now the Trump administration has got a stranglehold on the Endangered Species Act and is going to “modernize” extinction and “update” endangerment — kind of like me modernizing your home by taking a chainsaw and flamethrower to it and then updating your family by running a bulldozer over them. Not unlike how the EPA just recently “updated” (= nullified) the determination regarding water pollution and degradation from the proposed Pebble mine in Alaska. I guess some people haven’t noticed that we are in the midst of a global biodiversity crisis, not just in the Amazon or Indonesia, but here and everywhere else in the world. One of our own making.

For God so loved the world that he was willing to kill every human on it — except for one family, and he charged them with the responsibility of saving a breeding pair of EVERY non-human animal species on it. Not just the ones that Noah may have preferred or that conveniently did not interfere with corporate profits, but ALL of them. Now we have the spectacle of so-called ‘Christians’ in high office who think they know better than God which species are important and which should be allowed to survive. Arrogantly deciding that they know which species all the future human generations to come will need or deserve or get to enjoy. Family values at work.

Yes, as these creation haters are so quick to remind us, extinction is a natural. Indeed, it has happened in the past – but from forces beyond our control. This current catastrophe is not just extinction passively happening. No, what is happening now is done actively and consciously. This isn’t just extinction, it’s EXTERMINATION on a global scale. The Final Solution applied to an entire planet. That those applauding it equate themselves to a mindless chunk of rock passing thru space or a brainless volcano or sheet of ice, tells you a big part of the problem.

This is the same crowd who say, “Trump is the chosen one” – yes, the cult’s boot-licking lackeys actually compare a wretched little golden-calf-worshipper to Jesus Christ! That’s either the silliest thing I’ve ever heard or the most satanic – You be the judge.

Too bad they and their “great and unmatched wisdom” weren’t around back in Noah’s time. They could have set him straight, along with that big dummy giving the orders – who was it, Yahweh somebody? – “Forget saving all the species, we know better than you two who needs to be allowed to survive: only the ones who don’t get in the way of our wallets.”

* Here’s a perfect example of the zeitgeist: the ‘bi-partisan’ Owyhee bill to turn over our precious public lands to welfare ranchers out in Malheur (yes, that’s right, that Malheur), doling out over a billion dollars in subsidies and a million acres of Oregon to the Bundys’ cohorts. Tragically, what’s being cooked up for the Owyhee is not an isolated sick incident. Drastically weakening the ESA. Moving to shield virtually all timber sales on NFs from public participation and environmental analyses by labeling them “categorical exclusions”. And now moving to gut the entire National Environmental Policy Act (the one passed by that notorious environmental extremist Richard Nixon). Slaughtering and delisting Wolves and Grizzly Bears. Reducing critical habitat and National Monuments. Reversing policy on National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska to allow morally depraved “sportsmen” to slaughter mother Bears and their cubs in their dens while they are hibernating. Blaming Tribal Nations for trying to “destroy our western way of life”. Proposing $200 million of new welfare logging of old growth and removing roadless area protections on the Tongass NF, jacking up logging on National Forests nationwide, forcing grazing allotments on Bridger Teton NF Grizzlies, fragmenting and degrading and denying long-term protection to the exceptionally wild Gallatin Range on the Custer-Gallatin NF, “restoring” one National Forest in Wyoming by building 600 miles of new roads, slaughtering Bison who sadly step across the invisible line separating Yellowstone National Park from the National Forests that surround it, and now deciding to hammer Wood Turtles, old growth, and roadless areas with “restoration treatments” (i.e., burning and looting) on North Shenandoah Mountain in the George Washington National Forest.

These deeds and far more are all cut from the same stinking rotten filthy cloth. Concerns about environmental impacts and rare species get in the way of profiteering and corporate convenience. So, bedrock laws will have to be “modernized” and “streamlined” – actions that demonstrate a sneering contempt for landscape ecology and conservation biology science, for justice and honesty, liberty and biodiversity, for the creation itself. Nothing is sacred – except the almighty dollar. Nothing is safe. And telling us all the while that we can’t afford real conservation, even on public lands. Somehow though, we can always afford to subsidize the desecrators.

Who of course tell us over and over that National Forests and other public lands just can’t be healthy without more stumps and roads and cattle and fires, without the liberal application of chainsaws and bulldozers and invasive species. All those National Parks and Wilderness Areas and internationally recognized World Heritage sites out there existing without welfare logging and welfare grazing and welfare drilling – they are all an unhealthy mess. Any of you reading this can visit these places and learn about them for yourselves. “Who you going to believe, your lying eyes and scientifically verifiable facts, or us vested interests sucking the money out of your pockets?”

The message delivered by these pompous quacks can be summed up as follows – ‘What you indigenous people and other watermelons just don’t get is:

1) You have NO right to live on healthy land – and that goes double for all you wild lowlife non-human species.

2) I have NO obligation to be a responsible caretaker of the Earth – future generations can go to hell.

3) NOTHING has any value except for what I stick a $ in front of – Therefore, when there is no cost involved with what I destroy, destroying the world can be very “economical” – Q: What is the replacement cost for thousands of Salamanders destroyed by a clearcut? A: ZERO.’

These are the same people who if they’d been in the cave 4 million years ago when somebody first walked erect would have been finger-pointing and shrieking “Progressive!” People like you and me who disagree with their pro-extinction pro-pollution pro-stump pro-cancer pro-death agenda are watermelons, green on the outside, red on the inside. On top of not being patriots or even real Americans.

The ESA was first enacted around 50 years ago. Since then, does it seem to you that innovation and development have ground to a halt in America? To call the ESA an undue burden on business is trumped-up nonsense. Here’s some perspective: the entire annual US Fish and Wildlife Service budget for implementing the ESA for ALL the listed species is equal to around 30 HOURS of military spending for America’s endless ‘global war on terror’. But somehow, we can’t afford the protection and recovery of rare species? To further that cause, it would certainly be of immense help if we’d end the endless war inflicted upon our National Forests and other public lands, waters, and wildlife.

At present, to strictly protect our National Forests and BLM lands from being destroyed and desecrated by chainsaws and bulldozers, it literally takes an act of Congress – The Wilderness Act. It does not have to be like this, in fact it could be just the opposite. Yes, I look forward to the day when those who want to inflict a timber sale or mine or grazing allotment on our public lands will have to spend years organizing the public, pleading for donations, writing letters to the editor and to politicians, spending money on outreach materials, holding conferences, meeting with businesses and politicians, drafting a bill, and finally convincing an elected representative to introduce legislation, an act of Congress that if passed would allow a particular single timber sale or mine or grazing allotment to occur on some individual National Forest, Wildlife Refuge, or BLM lands.

And if DC politicians truly want to update and modernize the Endangered Species Act, here’s what to do: Increase its meager funding ten-fold. Finally, enforcement and implementation could actually be accomplished. Restoration of habitat, on lands both private and public, would be achieved. Lawsuits would significantly decline. Jobs would be created. Populations of rare flora and fauna would significantly recover. And Americans, who overwhelmingly support the ESA and its mission, will be a lot happier.

There are some Americans, maybe some of you reading this, who don’t vote because “It doesn’t make a difference who gets elected.” Consider the money-lover-in-chief installed in the White House busy destroying our lands and water and wildlife. Puts OIL and COAL LOBBYISTS in charge of our precious public lands and waters. Lobbyists; how’s that for ‘draining the swamp’? ‘Former’ clients of Interior Secretary David Bernhard (just one of the 280 lobbyists placed in power by Trump), who’s been busy selling off water and BLM lands, invested $30 million lobbying the Trump administration and they’re getting some big returns on their investment. They think it makes a difference. Ask the Native Americans working to protect their homelands at Standing Rock who got waterhosed in subfreezing weather if it makes a difference. It does.

Now is not the time to not vote. A mob has taken over the Senate and White House that is an existential threat to freedom, America, and our very lives. America needs to overhaul its fundamental priorities. Before we expand and strengthen protections for our precious lands, waters, air, plants and animals, we first must toss out the golden-calf-worshipping creation haters.

I understand completely about being repelled by the dishonesty and arrogance of the ‘two major parties’. No one within hearing range has raged more vehemently than I against the treachery of the republocrats. There’s an old Appalachian saying: ‘The difference between Mitch McConnell and Pete Buttigieg wouldn’t fill an ant’s asshole’ (okay, maybe not so old). So, none of this writing should be construed as an endorsement for just any ‘democrat’ who comes along. But what this administration and its enablers in Congress are doing to our world is malignant and intolerable. If concern about this ongoing atrocity exhibition makes me a one-issue voter, then so be it; like Noah, I can’t think of a more important single issue than the diversity of life on this planet. At present, I am not suggesting you vote for anyone. But consider the response of the late great entertainer W.C. Fields when asked who he would vote for: “Hell, I never vote for anybody, I always vote against.” Anybody who’s for that litany of filth in the * paragraph, I’m against. Voting against them is the least we can do.

Steven Krichbaum, PhD, herpetologist and conservation biologist, has worked for 30 years with grassroots groups protecting forests and animals and never met a turtle he didn’t like.