26 August, 2005

Call Me Unconvinced

From the Los Angeles Times (via Kevin Drum), this little gem comes out:
The potential changes would allow cellphone towers and low-flying tour planes and would liberalize rules that prohibited mining, according to Bill Wade, former superintendent at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.

Larry Whalon, chief of resource management at Mojave National Preserve, said the changes would take away managers' ability to use laws such as the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act to oppose new developments in parks.

Although Interior and the Park Service are free to change the service's management polices at any time, they have been amended only twice. The last time was in 2001.
So they want to open it up for cell-usage, air travel, and mining, do they... I wonder who came up with such a brilliant idea? Answers to that just happen to be a single paragraph down:
The changes are the brainchild of Paul Hoffman, who oversees the Park Service and was appointed deputy assistant secretary of the Interior in January 2002.

Hoffman came to the Park Service after serving as director of the Chamber of Commerce in Cody, Wyo. He had previously served as Wyoming state director for then-U.S. Rep. Dick Cheney from 1985 to 1989.

"Paul Hoffman had some initial suggestions and prompted us," said David Barna, a Park Service spokesman. "Paul Hoffman was playing devil's advocate. He was saying, 'Show us, the political appointees who make policy, why do you do things the way you do?' It was a starting point. We're a long way from that now. They have drafted a new raw draft."
Is this a Cheney plot to take all our natural resources... Nope. I won't go that far. But it does seem a bit suspicious, doesn't it, especially after seeing the press release that the DoI put out after his appointment...

Paul Hoffman has a long and impressive record as a Wyoming community leader and conservationist,” Norton said. “He is an avid outdoorsman who has worked to improve the conservation and the recreational benefits of parks and other natural areas in Wyoming.

Hoffman joined the Cody Country Chamber of Commerce in 1990 after working as state director for then-U.S. Representative Dick Cheney from 1985 to 1989. During that time, he helped initiate the bipartisan effort to designate Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River as Wyoming'’s first wild and scenic river.

In 1984, Hoffman co-founded the Park County Resouce Council, now known as the Northwest Wyoming Resou[r]ce Council, a grassroots group dedicated to protecting the environment of Northwest Wyoming, including Yellowstone National Park.
This does not sound to me like the type of man that would even suggest this sort of action, even in Devil's advocate format. From what I am reading, that Northwest Wyoming Resource Council lives up to the eco-friendly billing, even being a co-applicant in a legal case versus the timber industry.

Le sigh... If these guys just had a website to make the checking-up easier. And if someone would take up the cause to get Paul Hoffman's name in lights, too... (Maybe I should?) Regardless, I'll be keeping an eye out on this one.

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