Our Least Green Congressman


There are lots of representatives with low marks on environmental issues. But based on a string of recent high-profile actions and missteps, Richard Pombo seems to have developed a special talent for raising the ire of environmentalists.

The California Republican is perhaps best known for the drastic changes to the Endangered Species Act he pushed through the House this Fall, changes friendly to industry groups. (And while we’re on the subject, you may want to check out my recently-posted article about one of the bill’s key provisions. It would have merely enshrined an earlier, little-noted rule change by the Bush Administration which already, in certain cases, ended oversight of federal projects by the government’s endangered species experts.)

Pombo, who chairs the House Resources committee, has also came under fire for recommending that the National Park Service auction off, and thereby privatize, 15 sites. The Center for Public Integrity recently determined that the Congressmen owed taxes on two trips sponsored by a foundation with “highly unusual” management and financial procedures—and funding ties to pro-whaling and fur trade groups.

And today comes a report, from the Environmental Working Group, that Pombo has slipped a line into the House’s budget reconciliation bill that would reverse a Clinton-era ban on selling over 350 million acres of public lands to miners, oil drillers and loggers. So far the provision hasn’t gotten much attention—and if there ever was an example of falling for blatant-spin, it’s this Reuters wire containing the news, entitled “Republican wants to help poor gather firewood.” Talk about burying the lede.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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