California has a lot to offer, but it is often subject to closed-door arrangements through “sue and settle” tactics that leave the public in the dark.
California is a beautiful place to visit. 7 years ago, my wife and I spent our honeymoon traveling San Francisco, Napa Valley, and of course, Yosemite National Park. Not only was the weather perfect for our stay in each location, but also the scenery was incredible.
California is riddled with misdirected elitists who search for reasons to become activists at war with whatever is considered trendy to oppose at the moment. What’s worse is that government often endorses these tactics. As a case study, look back at 2015 when the state was facing a severe drought. Environmentalists successfully lobbied the state to abandon critical water-storage reservoirs to protect wildlife from disruption, while heavily fining up to $500 per day for people who used “too much water.”
Putting bugs and bunnies before people is normal behavior for these radical, as anyone paying attention notices. That’s why it’s no surprise groups such as the Sierra Club, Food & Water Watch, Earthjustice, and Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) have been gaming the system. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s website, in fact, has a page dedicated to one of their tactics – Sue and Settle. This is what the Chamber of Commerce (emphasis added):
“Sue and Settle” refers to when a federal agency agrees to a settlement agreement, in a lawsuit from special interest groups, to create priorities and rules outside of the normal rulemaking process. The agency intentionally relinquishes statutory discretion by committing to timelines and priorities that often realign agency duties. These settlement agreements are negotiated behind closed doors with no participation from the public or affected parties.
The CBD finds this tactic very effective. It gives itself credit for urging former-President Obama to kill the Keystone Pipeline and is now using the Sue and Settle maneuver to attack California fracking on federal lands. The CBD has sued the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for not considering all of the potential environment impacts of fracking on federal lands, leading to another halted in the sale of leases. The BLM hasn’t sold a lease there since 2013 because of this ongoing turmoil of policies and politics.
What I find especially interesting is this statement made by Greg Loarie, an Earthjustice attorney. He said:
“Our hope is that this settlement puts the final nail in the coffin for BLM’s illegal practice of rubberstamping fracking in California without environmental review”
If anything, the CBD rubber stamp at the bottom of each of its lawsuits has become a weapon against fracking. The CBD was also involved in another lawsuit settlement where offshore fracking permits were effectively overturned based on findings by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). This is abuse of the system and it needs to stop.
The BLM has proven itself, not just in California, but also in Ohio. The same process for leasing federal lands brought in $7 million in sales for the Wayne County National Forrest. As reported by the Energy In Depth, the state receives 25% of the sale that goes directly back into the community. In this case, Monroe County received $42,454 from the first sale and is expected to gain another $200,000. County Commissioner, Mick Schumacher, stated the school district will receive 68% or $164,868. This is also based on the sales; the county will also collect 12.5% of royalties.
This is what California needs, as it is facing a $1.6-billion deficit. Seven counties have some sort of a defacto fracking ban. The most recent is Monterey County as it passed Measure Z, the scary name used to ban fracking, has barely fought off a $16 million deficit by enacting layoffs at the County’s Resources Management Agency.
The CBD and similar groups are doing nothing more than holding us back. They remind me of the Mafia as they fight anything where they are not getting a cut in the form of several “green” projects such as solar farms and wind, as well as a green housing development. Environmental sue and settle tactics are nothing less than corruption of democracy where back-door sweetheart deals are cut between special interests on the inside and outside of government at the expense of taxpayers. Why aren’t legislators putting a stop to it? Because they’re in on it, too, of course. We all need to speak up against those who use this tactic.
Editor’s Note: The Central for Biological Diversity is a rathe bizarre organization. It doesn’t appear to have filed a 990 return with the IRS since 2014 and makes none of its financial information accessible from its website. It had over $14 million in revenue in 2014, much of it coming from legal money-laundering groups such as the Schwab Charitable Fund who effectively hide the name of donors designating money for recipients such as the CBD.
It is run by an odd duck by the name of Kierán Suckling (pictured here), who founded the group while in graduate school, having apparently never been anything but an “environmental activist.” He made over $200,000 in 2014 doing, though, so it’s a pretty good gig for him. He was profiled in a 1999 New Yorker piece entitled “No People Allowed,” which had some revealing things to say about him and called the CBD “the most important radical environmental group in the country” (emphasis added):
Writer describes Suckling as a trickster, philosopher, publicity hound, master strategist, and unapologetic pain in the ass… What’s unusual about the center is not so much its agenda, which is shared by the rest of the so-called deep-ecology wing of the environmental movement, as its effectiveness… In 1995, it persuaded a federal judge to enjoin, for more than a year, all commercial forestry in the United States Forest Service’s Region 3 … The injunction dealt what will probably be a mortal blow to commercial logging in the Southwest. Suckling and the two other principal figures at the center, Peter Galvin and Robin Silver, say they don’t want to eliminate logging—just logging whose goal is to cut down big trees… Mentions that they have come to alienate not only loggers, ranchers and developers but members of the established, liberal environmental movement… The center’s enemies aren’t wrong to perceive it as a threat. It acts on behalf of plants and animals (it is now campaigning for the reintroduction of jaguars and grizzly bears), but if it keeps winning the immediate impact will be on people. Settlements would be reduced, structures would be taken down, jobs would be lost. “We will have to inflict severe economic pain,” Robin Silver told me. “We’d like to see belly-high grass over millions of acres,” Peter Galvin added… Describes Suckling’s early life, and his playful modification of Heidigger’s anti-technological philosophy… Describes his work with Earth First! and the revelation he experienced when hearing of the Endangered Species Act… Suckling, Galvin, and Silver realized that it would be possible to obtain endangered-species designations for dozens of species, whose critical habitat, if put together, would represent a significant portion of the Southwest…. The center’s ideas about the moral superiority of untouched nature to human civilization seem commonplace, but they’re actually rather new… The human ecology of the Southwest has got out of balance, because the Center for Biological Diversity has been spectacularly good at amassing disproportionate power for itself…
That pretty well says it all, doesn’t it?