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We Are All Oklahoma Now

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Donald Trump naming Scott Pruitt as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency is really just bog-standard Republicanism, which of course makes the entire existence of the Green Party an absurdity bordering on tragedy. Pruitt of course is from Oklahoma, a climate denier who has overseen the vast growth of increasingly powerful earthquakes in this geologically stable part of the nation due to fracking. This is the environmental policy of the United States government between 2017 and 2021, at least, probably more given the massive voter suppression coming under Attorney General Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Trump may not be done tapping the Sooner State for his administration. A leading candidate to be Secretary of the Interior is Governor Mary Fallin, an extremist on public land issues (and many other things). Among other things, the National Park Service falls under the DOI. Oklahoma has state parks. And Fallin has sought to get rid of these horrible things in the name of freedom and private profit.

Under Fallin’s leadership, Oklahoma has disposed of a third of its state park system, going from 50 parks in 2011 to just 32 today. In her first year alone, Fallin permanently closed seven state parks while placing an oil executive from Chesapeake Energy — one of her biggest campaign contributors — in charge of the state’s park system.

Fallin has years of experience selling off Oklahoma’s parks, going all the way back to 2005, when as lieutenant governor she spearheaded a plan to sell Lake Texoma State Park, one of Oklahoma’s most popular destinations, to private developers who promised to build a billion-dollar resort there.

The sale turned into a decade-long debacle that perfectly encapsulates why privatizing America’s public lands is such a terrible idea.

In 2005, Oklahoma agreed to sell 750 acres of Lake Texoma Park to Pointe Vista Development, a company owned by two oil executives: Chesapeake Energy’s Aubrey McClendon and Chaparral Energy’s Mark Fischer.

After getting the ball rolling on the giveaway, Fallin ran for Congress, and McClendon donated $4,200 to her campaign. Once in Washington, she continued her giveaway to McClendon, sponsoring legislation that paved the way for the sale of 227 of those acres to Pointe Vista. The sale went through in 2008, as McClendon kept sending money to Fallin’s campaign.

And then nothing happened.

Well, almost nothing. Pointe Vista tore down the once-popular Lake Texoma Lodge and closed the public golf course. Businesses closed up shop. Visitors stopped coming. The promised luxury resort was never built.

The Trump economy in a nutshell!

The National Parks are a particularly priority for me and while they aren’t on everyone’s radar as a political target, they very much will be. It’s not as if Yellowstone or Yosemite are going to close, but they may well be privatized or enter into public-private partnerships that include massive branding. The smaller parks, especially the historical ones, are going to be in real trouble. How do you think a Trump administration deals with a national park dedicated to Stonewall? Or slavery? Or women’s rights? It’s entirely possible some of these parks could be shuttered, although that would take a bill and Americans do like their national parks. But there’s nothing in the United States where Republicans don’t have an agenda to privatize, to close, or to profit. That includes the national parks. Mary Fallin would be a great choice for those who hate national parks.

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  • Warren Terra

    How much leeway does the administration have to strip mine and clearcut the parks without act of Congress?

    At the least, we’ll be back to the bad old days of “scientific logging” and “fire prevention” that mysteriously happens to require the removal of the old growth and most valuable trees and the construction of access roads (also the reopening of parks to ATVs and lakes to dirty oil burning engines). Though maybe we’ll be spared the logging by low timber prices.

    ETA though it’s not like requiring an act of Congress will be much of a hindrance.

    • Downpuppy

      Seeing as giving away land is in the Republican Platform..

      The federal government owns or controls over 640 million acres of land in the United States, most of which is in the West. These are public lands, and the public should have access to them for appropriate activities like hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting. Federal ownership or management of land also places an economic burden on counties and local communities in terms of lost revenue to pay for things such as schools, police, and emergency services. It is absurd to think that all that acreage must remain under the absentee ownership or management of official Washington. Congress shall immediately pass universal legislation providing for a timely and orderly mechanism requiring the federal government to convey certain federally controlled public lands to states. We call upon all national and state leaders and representatives to exert their utmost power and influence to urge the transfer of those lands, identified in the review process, to all willing states for the benefit of the states and the nation as a whole. The residents of state and local communities know best how to protect the land where they work and live. They practice boots-on-the-ground conservation in their states every day. We support amending the Antiquities Act of 1906 to establish Congress’ right to approve the designation of national monuments and to further require the approval of the state where a national monument is designated or a national park is proposed.

  • Michael Cain

    Speaker Ryan has, from time to time, made a run at gutting the Forest Service’s fire-fighting budget. After the last attempt, a couple of folks I still know down at the statehouse told me some members of the Congressional delegation — representing both parties — stopped by during one of the recesses to suggest it was time for Colorado to look at funding its own fleet of small aerial tankers, as they weren’t sure they would be able to defend that line item the next time.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      so wonderful. the whole country could literally burn to the ground with enough drought and Ryan says, “fuckem. I got a fire department”

      • Michael Cain

        Don’t need any more drought than we’ve had — Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana each have something over a million acres of beetle-killed trees. The Sierras in California are getting to that point. I do know that a regional tanker fleet has been a topic of active discussion by the members of the Western Governors Association.

    • Warren Terra

      Maybe the Republican obsession with supporting Israel can do some good there: Israel had bad wildfires this summer, and the US deployed some aerial water tankers to help fight the fires, which we won’t be able to do if we no longer have them (though, a less cheerful version of the same idea is that those Israel-obsessed Republicans might just give the tankers to Israel and kill both birds (not to mention many acres of our forests) with one stone.

    • SatanicPanic

      I feel like that has a potential to cost some Trump voters their homes.

      • postmodulator

        Yeah, but I think there is also a down side.

      • Snuff curry

        But not their votes, alas.

    • Just_Dropping_By

      Given Ryan’s repeated losses in trying to reduce/eliminate agricultural subsidies, it seems implausible that there are going to be the votes to significantly defund federal forest fighting services given the number of states that benefit from that and which have one or more Republican senators plus majority Republican House delegations (and often with those Republican House members representing rural districts). That said, if it does get defunded, it would seem to cut against the extremely popular LGM theory that Republican support of smaller government is only a cynical smoke screen (pun not intended) for hurting people of color, since I’m pretty sure that the direct beneficiaries of the service are overwhelmingly white.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        “heads I’m right tails you’re wrong”

  • DrDick

    Saw that earlier. No good ever comes from any Oklahoma Republican (and never has).

  • anonymous

    What is worst between OK or KS as far as total uncontested Repug “governance” goes?

  • PotemkinMetropolitanRegion

    I guess Secretary of the Interior Amon Bundy sounded too reasonable too Trump.

  • Linnaeus

    Yay neofeudalism.

  • dogboy

    The National Park Service runs various levels or types of areas, National Parks being the most familiar. There are also National Monuments, Historic Trails, Preserves, and Recreation Areas. See New Mexico for some fine examples of quality buildable land.

    This is a fcuking disaster.

    • Warren Terra

      There’s also land designated as protected wilderness (I think within the park service, though I’m not sure) that could presumably be reclassified.

      • Most wilderness areas are managed through the Department of Agriculture, although not all.

        • DrDick

          Yeah, most of that is under the Forest Service.

      • dogboy

        Other parts of Interior, the Bureau of Land Management in particular, has such areas. The US Fish and Wildlife Service also has land that is often managed for similar ends.

        The Bureau of Indian Affairs also falls under the DOI.

        Federal energy development is generally run by the DOI.

        Really though, do we need to have all those purple mountains majesty? Do we really need be spending money protecting a staircase?

  • scott_theotherone

    Jesus fuck. I swear to the FSM, I don’t fucking know how I’m going to get through the next four fucking years. The Bush administration did a serious fucking number on my mental health—I was living in a very red area at the time, and almost all of the people with whom I came in daily contact were very nice and very, very conservative, so there wasn’t even anyone with whom I could commiserate and blow off steam—and now that’s looking like a fucking walk in the fucking park by comparison.

  • Mike in DC

    My new operating hypothesis is that the greatest threat to human existence is shareholder value theory. The reason why climate change mitigation is strongly resisted? Doing something would endanger profits and reduce shareholder value. Why are we building robots to replace half or more of the workforce? Reducing labor costs increases profits and maximizes shareholder value. The last human will expire with a smile on his or her face, admiring their sweet stock portfolio.

    • thequeso

      This is an excellent take.

    • Warren Terra

      The problem isn’t mechanization – if a robot can do a monotonous task, why sentence a human to do it? – but the abandonment of the former workers to lives of impoverished futility, while a few people cash in big.

    • anonymous

      This doesn’t work in the long run though.

      You can only increase profits by reducing labour costs if you lay off people and reduce employee compensation while employees of other companies have the same buying power as before.

      But if all employers are reducing labour costs, the cheaper production costs would be more than cancelled out by the erosion of consumer buying power.

      • guthrie

        That doesn’t matter, because the top oligarchs think someone else will carry the can of paying for stuff. At first it was personal private debt, and now it’s that and government debt. We can easily imagine some sort of debt implosion, but the masters of the universe reckon they can just fiddle with the tokens (i.e. money) and re-set the gaming board and it’ll be fine. One way of doing that is quantitative easing.

      • Warren Terra

        Isn’t that just a completely typical collective action problem, though? Sure, if everyone does it you have no customers … but if you don’t do it you can’t keep up in the race to the bottom, and until everyone does it you can cash in by slashing your payroll.

        • BiloSagdiyev

          Uh, lock up the unemployed poor for minor infractions?. Uh, robot prison guards? Deficit spending?

    • BiloSagdiyev
  • thequeso

    Scott Pruitt is the best darned minor league baseball general manager ever elected Attorney General of Oklahoma, and he’ll be best darn minor league baseball general manager ever appointed EPA Administrator.

  • PIGL

    The Fermi paradox.

    We haz solved it.

  • bernard

    I see only one plus to the Pruitt nomination.

    No Republican Senator who votes for confirmation can ever be taken seriously again. The myth of the “reasonable Republican” will die forever.

  • UncleEbeneezer

    Speaking of parks….WTF Parks Service?

    According to The Guardian, the National Park Service, on behalf of the Presidential Inauguration Committee, has blocked access to the landmark by filing a “massive omnibus blocking permit.” This will bar protesters from most of the National Mall, Pennsylvania Avenue, the Washington Monument, and of course, the Lincoln Memorial for days and weeks before, during, and after the inauguration, which will take place on Jan. 20, 2017.

  • sergiol652

    Today EPA released the members of the Trump EPA transition team. They all come from Far Right think tanks.

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