Attacks on the National Wildlife Refuges: Any Convenient Lie
The United States National Wildlife Refuge system is under attack. Specifically, there is a bill in Congress that would prohibit anyone but Congress from creating new National Wildlife Refuges. The bill would destroy a century-old administrative process for designating new National Wildlife Refuges. The excuses for the bill are a tissue of lies. WC will examine a few of them.
The National Wildlife Refuge system is a microscopic part of the federal budget. For the last year for which WC can find data, the net cost to taxpayers was $503 million. That’s 0.013% of the 2012 federal budget. It’s about the cost of a single F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft. Put another way, the cost of the entire National Wildlife Refuge System, a sum Rep. Fleming doesn’t propose to reduce at all, could be recovered by canceling the order for a single F-22. So perhaps this isn’t about saving money.
And that “land grab appetite.”? Every U.S. president since Teddy Roosevelt – no exceptions – has administratively created national wildlife refuges. Ronald Reagan alone created 35 national wildlife refuges. George H.W. Bush created 47. George W. Bush created 13, including the largest single unit in the NWR system.
President Obama? Just five. But one of them was the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge, north of Lake Okeechobee in the Kissimmee River basin. It’s controversial. So Rep. Fleming’s solution to a local problem of a wildlife refuge to protect Florida Scrub Jays, an endangered species, drinking water and the Florida Black Panther is to remove a presidential power that has existed for well over a century. And the “land grab” claims is especially specious in the case of Everglades Headwaters because two-thirds of the Refuge will be private property where the owners have voluntarily sold only their development rights.
So what’s going on?
WC respectfully suggests that this bill has a lot more to do with unhappy real estate developers who just happen to be big contributors to Rep. Fleming’s political campaign than alleged land grabs and excessive spending.
And we already know about Rep. Don Young’s connections to Florida property developers, so it’s no surprise to learn that he is a co-sponsor of H.R. 3009.
It’s the usual teabaggery: pandering to campaign contributors thinly disguised as money saving and power-limiting, advanced with an utter disregard for either history or existing processes.
Nothing to see here; move along.