This graph is disheartening:
Now I know Obama has done a lot on the "green" side of things, like the EPA gas mileage standards improvement, like doubling alternative energy production. But his lands records, as illustrated above, is really, really sorry. I mean, worse than Bush? Come on Obama. Maybe he will significantly improve in his second term. We'll see.
But for now people like former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt have to go to Washington and give a speech arguing for policies to protect our public lands when really, it should just happen. Like it did under Reagan. Or George HW. Bush, or like it did with Clinton. Or like it did under George W. F-ing Bush.
Look at that graph again.
Sad. Shameful. Disappointing.
Now for those of us who would cry out, "Yeah but republican congress! Or yeah but Obama can't do anything!" Look at that graph again and then look up who controlled Congress during those times. Yes this Congress is different, in a very "different" sort of way. But Obama, as President, can do something administratively that doesn't require this whacko Congress' approval. Just like that graph shows above, he can go around the 12 year olds of the 113th. George W. F-ing Bush did more to protect public lands using administrative powers than Obama has thus far.
What Bruce Babbitt is calling for is a new policy that would set aside one acre for public lands protection for every acre Obama opens up to drilling. Obama has opened up over 6 million acres of public land to oil and gas drilling in just 4 years.
Or as Secretary Babbitt pointed out today at the National Press Club:
Under George H.W. Bush, conservation ran neck and neck with oil and gas.Sometimes pictures are better at getting the point across:
Under President Clinton, conservation moved ahead.
Then, under President George W. Bush, conservation fell far behind, with the oil and gas industry taking down 7.5 acres for every acre of permanent conservation.
So far, under President Obama, industry has been winning the race as it obtains more and more land for oil and gas. Over the past four years, the industry has leased more than 6 million acres, compared with only 2.6 million acres permanently protected. In the Obama era, land conservation is again falling behind.
Therefore, I am proposing today that the President adopt a common-sense principle: for every acre of land leased to the oil and gas industry during his tenure, one acre must be permanently protected for future generations. It's that simple: one to one.Babbitt, in his prepared remarks, points out that the President has a very clear path to protect our public lands that has been used by previous Presidents, such as Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II. Please read Babbitt's prepared remarks to see how Obama can achieve these goals without (or with) the approval of the current "congress" (if that's what we must call them).
This 'One-to-One principle' will ensure that the conservation of our public lands is on equal ground with energy development. The principle will ensure that tourism, hunting, fishing are on equal ground with the interests of oil and gas companies. And it will ensure that our responsibility to future generations and to the climate is on equal ground with the pressures and needs of today.
Now, how can the President right the balance between development and land conservation by the end of his second term, and achieve that one-to-one balance?
He can begin by committing to make up the deficit of the past four years by placing an additional 4 million acres of land into permanent protection. And going forward he should then, too, commit to place one additional acre into permanent protection for each acre leased out to the oil and gas industry.
Obama's "All The Above" stance towards energy production doesn't seem to include public land protection. But it sure does include a lot of "Drill Baby Drill."
He can change his lasting legacy on our public lands. It's up to him to make a course correction over the next 4 years. Hopefully someone will show him that graph up there and that will light a spark. Hopefully that graph above is embarrassing enough that someone will bring it to the attention of the President.
Link to the policy proposal On Equal Ground.