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    Greg and Beth

    the political and personal musings of two
    mountaineers living in west-central Florida
     
    You've Got My Inner Environmentalist All Riled Up Comment
    Gregory Morris, 1/14/09 8:09:31 am
    In case you didn't know, I'm an self-proclaimed environmentalist. I freely and happily admit it. Sure, I'm libertarian-leaning, but the two aren't mutually exclusive. I'm not a bark-humping, slugs-are-people-too, flower-wearing hippie, but I do care deeply about the environment. I am even willing to support some legislation which protects the environment.

    One branch of environmental law that I generally support is the protection of endangered species. A lot of laws and regulations go too far, but in most cases I believe a balance can be struck. You can argue the good and bad points of the Endangered Species Protection Act, etc. I'm not really interested in having that discussion right now. The fact is, most species around the world are endangered because of habitat destruction, so it follows that reasonable protections against human development serve to maintain species that are on the edge of survival. If we can at least agree that endangered species should be allowed to survive then we're on the same page.

    Ok, now that I covered that, time to get to the meat...

    Sometimes, in the course of protecting the homes of threatened animals, politicians have to give a little to get a little. It often works out that a land-owning corporation will pay a crap-ton of money in order to get permission to damage or destroy critter-habitat. That money is paid outright to the government or just as often poured into further land study, protection and restoration.

    For instance, in most places around the country, if you want to destroy a wetland habitat, you have to create/restore/protect more than you are destroying. The concept is simple: allow some destruction in return for a positive net gain. These rules generally work as a good balance between corporate interests and environmental concerns.

    In Florida, we have this adorable little fellow called the Gopher Tortoise. It isn't really a useful animal, but it is native, rare, and most importantly, cute. So clearly he must be protected.

    The state set up rules that basically say you can't go building Wal-Marts on top of gopher tortoises. Of course, as a balance, they created a special fund that allows a corporate interest to pay the aforementioned crap-ton of money in order to bulldoze some tortoise burrows. The money is then used to secure and protect more tortoise habitat. The net result is a few certainly-dead tortoises, but many more newly protected and perpetually safe ones.

    Well that's the idea anyway.

    But we all know what a bad idea it is to give money to politicians, even if it is with the best of intentions.

    Via Sticks of Fire, I found this article outlining state environmental program cuts.

    Since Floridians don't like taxes, and we vote to get rid of them every chance we get, our legislature has been forced to tighten its belt a little bit. With the economy dwindling, and cries/fist-shaking from the masses to "do something", some Florida politicians have decided that the environment is no longer a priority. I completely understand. There are some environmental programs that are currently not justifiable given the recent cuts in the state budget.

    However, when money is paid into a pot which is set aside specifically for one purpose, politicians who try and raid the pot should be tar-and-feathered, then run out of town. Changing political climates do no give politicians the raid dedicated funds so they can keep their other pet projects.

    Imagine if Congress decided to use Pittman-Robertson money to subsidize Planned Parenthood? This is no different. I can't go as far as Mariella and call this "gopher tortoise blood money", but I am certainly incensed that our legislature would have the gall to steal this money which isn't theirs to begin with.

    [Comments are closed after a month.]

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