by Marita Noon
The debate between the Center for Biological Diversity and me stems from an issue gaining increasing attention. Most recently, on September 28, according to an Associated Press article, the EPA cut corners. Referencing a report from the Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general, the article states the “EPA should have followed a more extensive review process.”
Inspector General Arthur A. Elkins, Jr said: “It is clear that EPA did not follow all the required steps.”
Earlier this month, the Washington Examiner revealed a similar scandal: U.S. District Judge Oliver Wanger “ripped” two Fish and Wildlife scientists for their “biological opinion” that was “arbitrary, capricious and unlawful.” Likewise, I drew attention to science behind the proposed endangered species listing for the Sand Dune Lizard. The CBD took offense. Instead of defending the science, exposing the techniques of professional environmentalism, they have opted to attack me and post videos of my presentations on their website.
How’d we get here?
American environmental law is upside down. It focuses on the bottom of The National Environmental Policy Act, not the top, not the entirety. At the top of the Act’s “purpose” paragraph, it clearly states:
“To declare a national policy which will encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment.”
In other words, the public policy underlying NEPA favors protecting the balance between humans and the environment.
Since NEPA’s passage in 1969, opportunistic foundation elites realized the law offered them a chance to gain control and power over federal agencies and huge areas of American land. They realized that if they used the bottom part of the law, which deals only with penalties, they could find willing recipients to take their money and do their bidding.
Among the first were the Environmental Defense Fund (assets $151,858,743) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (assets $232,304,192). Over time, these foundations helped create enough groups, such as Earthjustice (total assets $39,270,926), The Sierra Club (revenue $84,753,217), and the Center for Biological Diversity (revenue $7,446,541*) to give them free reign in federal agencies and in the courts—appointing themselves as the arbiters of the environment. The foundations created a multi-billion dollar industry focused on seeking environmental penalties—making them a force that can cripple private industry.
These environmental groups now flood agencies with complicated opinions and data. An article in Nature News quotes Gary Frazer, assistant director for endangered species at the Fish and Wildlife Service:
“What we have had in recent years is a very large volume of petitions that overwhelmed our capabilities. We missed deadlines. And we got sued.”
Intimidated by the mass of technicality, over time courts have abdicated their duty to judge the science that came from agencies—empowering environmental groups, destroying industry, and killing jobs. The “productive” part of NEPA has fallen by the wayside. The fact that “man” is even part of the act has been forgotten.
As a result, energy projects of all kinds are being stopped or stalled in the name of protecting the environment—when there can be a “productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment.” Whether it be the desert tortoise and a solar project, Indiana bats and wind turbines, or sand dune lizards and oil and gas development, lawsuits have been filed. With the history of the spotted owl and logging and the delta smelt and farming, public opinion is beginning to turn. People are becoming increasingly aware that protecting a critter is destroying human habitat and livelihood.
With the global economy in peril and persistently high unemployment continuing, people believe it is time to encourage the “productive” part of NEPA. Even if they’ve never read NEPA or never even heard of it, they want to “stimulate the health and welfare of man” not just “prevent or eliminate damage to the environment and biosphere.”
Nothing would please me more than having to look for a new job because my efforts on behalf of “productive” brought environmental groups back to the purpose of NEPA:
“Encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment.”
If we truly had that, there would be no need for advocates on either side. But as long as there are Goliaths defending the “environment,” the Davids need to throw stones to defend “man”—even though Goliath may not like getting hit now and then.
* All figures from Guidestar
Marita Noon is the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy. Marita’s twentieth book, Energy Freedom, will be released in October.