The recent rumors that rancher Ken Salazar is a shoe-in at Interior have flipped on its head many of Obama’s most fervent western supporters’ idea of what the President-elect’s campaign promise for big-‘C’ “Change” might mean. That campaign slogan’s broad-sweeping allegation had many hopeful that a new outlook, an outlook responsive to Obama’s supporters on the ground, might change for western public land and wildlife issues following the President-elect’s sweeping victory.
Industry reaction to reports indicating Salazar’s favor give some indication as to how much “change” conservationists might expect. Colo. senator reported as choice for Interior Arizona Daily Star :
“He’s lived off the land all his life. He understands the system that we have to deal with day in and day out and he would understand the most about how to streamline the system and better manage our public lands,” said Bray, [Arizona Cattlemen’s Association] deputy director for government affairs.
Many people like it that Salazar comes from an energy-producing state and understands energy issues, said Frank Maisano, a Washington, D.C.-based consultant for oil refiners and wind-energy producers.
Salazar’s record on the environment and species in particular is troubling, especially when such conflicts with extractive land-uses and development. Succeeding Gale Norton as Attorney General of Colorado Salazar’s response to the USFWS scientifically informed finding that the black-tailed prairie dogs are biologically imperiled :
Greg Walcher, Ken Salazar, and the director of Colorado’s Department of Agriculture, Don Ament, threatened legal action if the USFWS listed the black-tailed prairie dog as a threatened species.
Occupying 2% of their former habitat, the only listing black-tailed prairie dogs enjoy currently is on Colorado’s Department of Agriculture designation of the prairie dog as a “pest” species whereby Salazar’s effort to prevent federal protection allows ranchers and developers to continue eradication efforts employing poison gas cartridges, zinc phosphide, and aluminum phosphide. Salazar did so to protect developers in Denver and to protect ranchers from scientifically defunct claims that the prairie dogs represent a threat to their livelihood, baseless myths that they compete for forage and that prairie dog burrows break cattle’s legs. They’re lies ~ that uniquely destructive flavor of western cowboy folklore all-too-familiar in Bush’s Interior – and reportedly coming to an Obama DOI near you.
This record – and more on oil & guns in parks & refusing to cap Big Ag subsidies at below 7 figures per recipient etc. etc. – has prompted a frenzy of conservationists both publicly and privately dismayed with the decision – all questioning “why” ? Original Arizona Daily Star:
“it’s such a shame that we’re not getting basically the best conservationist in the country who understands the other side’s views and considers all sides regarding issues,” said Michael Finkelstein, the former Center for Biological Diversity director, speaking of Grijalva.
Salazar “will completely undermine Obama’s message of change. He will not bring change to the public lands of the western United States.” [Jon Marvel] called the appointment “a travesty.”