Dear Congressman Hill: Thanks so much for the tiny environmental bone you tossed us by sponsoring the Flatside Wilderness Enhancement Act. Of course, as you know, the inclusion of that acreage had already been recommended, and it became a wilderness protected area when that happened. So thanks for nothing, because I don't think you care about the environment.
Your splashy promotion announcing the Flatside Wilderness increase rang a hollow note, because in the same week you and the rest of the Arkansas House members voted to put the gray wolf back on the path to extinction by removing it from the Endangered Species List.
By your actions you have created an environment that will give the Alaska helicopter wolf-hunting boys and the Montana folks with the motto of "The only good wolf is a dead wolf" open season to eliminate the gray wolf from the United States. Removing the gray wolf from the protected list will let individuals shoot any wolf they see on their property even if it poses no threat to livestock or humans.
The only reason the gray wolf exists now is because it is on the Endangered Species List. Even today, after a partial recovery, it occupies only 5 percent of its former range, and I guess your goal is to cut that range down to zoos or stuffed wolves in a museum. Congressman, how do you sleep at night knowing that you will be a party to exterminating a species?
So don't fake caring about Arkansas' environment when you are part of the group that is actively destroying the state's and nation's wildlife and forests. When you stay silent on environmental issues as you did when our national river, the Buffalo, was threatened or when you gave support to Congressman Westerman's Company Tree Farm Bill (I know it is called the Sustainable Forest Act--which is double talk).
This bill, if enacted, would allow the clear-cutting of as much as 10,000 acres of a national forest without public input. You are no friend of Arkansas' environment if you don't oppose this bill. But maybe that bill is what we might expect from Congressman Westerman who, when asked about the factory hog farm polluting the Buffalo River said, "I believe canoers peeing in the river will create more pollution than the hog farm." Congressman, do you know that hog farm puts out as much waste per year as a city of 20,000? Did you pass sixth-grade math?
Yes, I'm so mad at our congressional delegation that I could bite nails. They are in lockstep with the anti-environmental folks who are doing their best to destroy the wildlife and forests of our country in order to make a quick buck.
It seems not a day passes without some regulation being discarded, and I certainly believe in getting rid of cumbersome and generally worthless hindrances to doing business. But when political reasons override good science, such as the president's pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord, or when he issues a presidential directive based primarily on the promise he made to coal miners or other special interest groups, or when the energy secretary tries to salvage the closing of coal-fired generator plants which are being replaced by natural gas, all for political reasons, you have to ask: Are the votes of these coal-dependent states so important that the health of the planet is ignored?
Evidently it must be to the administration in Washington, and as our national forests and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge are opened for exploration and timber harvesting, it seems the goal is to make money at any cost, and America's wildlife and forests are expendable if they are in the way of making a dollar.
To our congressional delegation: You know many of these actions are ill-thought out and most are patently wrong. Then why have you not spoken out against the most flagrant disregard for our forests, wildlife, and environment? Are you being politically correct? Of course you are, and you are also missing a backbone.
Thank goodness the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality has denied the operation permit for the factory hog farm. Being politically correct almost caused our national river to be polluted. To have a governor, two senators and four congressmen who wouldn't stand up and support the conservation groups who were opposing the hog farm permit is a disgrace. But the fight to stop the factory hog farm from polluting the Buffalo may not be over. The hog farm can appeal the denial of the permit and who knows, it may prevail, and the fight to protect the river may not be over.
Of all things in this state that should be non-partisan, the Buffalo National River should top any list. In case you missed the reasons for the denial let me, as an expert witness, give you the reason:
I believe it is almost a certainty, if the hog farm is not resited off the Boone Limestone and away from Big Creek, the river will be polluted. The water that doesn't run off percolates into the Boone Limestone, and that water becomes part of the groundwater, which ultimately flows into the Buffalo. The remaining surface water runoff, from 11 fields where the hog lagoon materials are dumped, will wash into Big Creek and ultimately into the Buffalo.
If we're to save the river, the factory hog farm must be closed and sited on a more suitable terrain. Only then will the river be saved.
Remember this quote: When good men remain silent, evil triumphs. And don't worry. If you speak out, I promise people won't think you're a Democrat.
Email Richard Mason at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editorial on 11/25/2018