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How Western Industrial Interests Are Relying on Trump to Eviscerate Decades of Environmental Protections


In the West, legal decisions to protect animals instead of allowing for the unregulated exploitation of the natural world continue to outrage already profitable industries. Never mind that the protection of these species is also tremendously profitable for other groups, bringing a ton of money into states such as Oregon and Idaho. That money isn’t going to the right people–timber, mining, and agricultural capitalists. That’s why they are rooting for the Trump administration, which on these issues is no worse than any Republican administration, to repeal those protections and allow for profit at the price of extinction, just as God intended.

A group that represents farmers is calling the costs of saving imperiled salmon in the largest river system in the Pacific Northwest unsustainable and is turning to the Trump administration to sidestep endangered species laws.

The Columbia-Snake River Irrigators Association wants the government to convene a Cabinet-level committee with the power to allow exemptions to the Endangered Species Act. Known as the “God squad” because its decisions can lead to extinctions of threatened wildlife, it has only gathered three times — the last 25 years ago during a controversy over spotted owl habitat in the Northwest.

The irrigators association is frustrated with court rulings it says favor fish over people, claiming the committee could end years of legal challenges over U.S. dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers and bring stability for irrigators, power generators and other businesses that rely on the water.

Environmental groups call the request a publicity stunt and say it could hurt fishing companies and others that rely on healthy runs of federally protected salmon and steelhead.

The association sees hope in a series of pro-industry environmental decisions by President Trump. His administration has rescinded an Obama-era rule that would shield many small streams and other bodies of water from pollution and development, enacted policies to increase coal mining on federal lands and proposed giving Western states greater flexibility to allow development in habitat of sage grouse, a threatened bird.

To be clear, these rulings do not favor “fish over people.” They favor fish and the people who live in the Northwest because of its beauty and its animals over another group of people–agribusiness. I don’t have to explain which people will count in this administration.

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