Monday, Feb. 26, 2018|2 a.m.
View more of the Sun’s opinion section
Taking a look at one part of President Donald Trump’s budget plan, you may believe his administration is riding to the rescue of the National Park Service.
However a broader view of the general budget reveals something really different. The administration’s prepare for our national forests threaten to tear them to pieces.
While Trump suggests investing $18.7 billion to repair a massive upkeep backlog, which would look like a smart idea, the issue is that all but $257 million of that funding would come from private markets that would be admitted to the parks to utilize for commercial functions– primarily oil and gas companies. More specifically, the financing would be derived from the government collecting a percentage of energy leasing invoices.
Even worse yet, the Department of Interior would be offered the prerogative to offer any public lands that “show an increase in value from the sale.” That means Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and his personnel might provide acreage at their discretion if they think the federal government could make a buck off of it.
Rollbacks of policies on oil and gas extraction include another layer of concern to the plan.
This is a red alert circumstance.
It brings to mind horrible pictures of Trump and Zinke selling sliced-and-diced parts of the parks and public lands for fracking and oil drilling operations, turning peaceful natural locations into noisy and unclean beehives of extraction work and truck traffic.
It merely can not be permitted to take place. Nevada’s congressional delegates need to fight it, and need to understand that citizens will hold them responsible if they permit the Trump administration to carry out its assault on our public lands.
This especially applies to Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev. As he increasingly sucks up to the president in hopes of winning his main contest over Trump drone Danny Tarkanian, Heller must know that Nevadans anticipate him to fix a limit and protect our lands, political effects be damned.
Another essential reason to oppose Trump and Zinke on the concern is that the budget requires huge cutbacks in staffing– 1,835 National Parks Service staff members, 1,209 from the U.S. Geological Survey, 559 from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and 330 from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
That’s a heavy human cost. And when it comes to the parks staff members, you’ll feel their loss if you go to a park. Visitation is at its greatest level ever, so staffing cutbacks would imply less people offering services to ever-expanding crowds.
If that’s insufficient, a news product released recently about Zinke and the Trump administration provided Americans more reason to question their motives. The story, published by Mother Jones publication, said 2 U.S. Geological Study employees had actually resigned in protest of a demand by the administration for unpublished data from a study of oil and gas deposits in Alaska, a break from longstanding principles practices.
The story was uncomfortable due to the fact that the report contains economic information that would be important for inside trading– it literally has the potential to move markets. Because of that, USGS standards require the information not to be shown anybody, consisting of members of Congress and other federal and state officials, prior to it’s released to the general public.
Interior administrators claimed they had legal authority to see the information, and there’s been no proof that they utilized it for improper purposes. But it’s a curious scenario that bears enjoying.
When it comes to Trump’s spending plan, it’s worth pointing out that it’s simply a proposal to Congress. The budget plan already has been extensively mocked, considered that it would add $7 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years if embraced, so it’s unlikely that Congress will pass it.
However it does provide a look at how the administration is thinking of the parks system, and more significantly exactly what Trump’s special-interest controllers are requiring from him.
Also, legislators have the choice of adopting parts of it, so there’s need to be concerned for the parks and public lands.
The parks service needs assistance, no doubt. It’s facing an $11.6 billion stockpile of upkeep on its roadways, visitor facilities and other infrastructure.
But the Trump plan is no other way to set about making the fixes.
It’s reminiscent of a quote attributed to a U.S. military officer about the Vietnam War fight in the provincial capital of Ben Tre: “It became essential to ruin the town to wait.”