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The Cult of Reagan
Letter to the Editor
Felice Pace, November 2, 2007

To the editors of Sierra magazine:

Carl Pope's commentary The Cult of Reagan in the Nov-Dec '07 edition was right on the mark. As an environmental activist for the past 25 years I have many times encountered public officials who "didn't want the moral and legal responsibility to do what they knew had to be done." There is a word for officials who refuse to do their sworn duty; that word is "corrupt".

Endemic corruption is not limited to the federal agencies Carl Pope mentions. The California Department of Fish & Game, for example, has systematically refused to enforce Fish & Game Codes that require irrigators and dam owners to keep habitat below their dams and diversions in good condition. And the agency has diverted salmon restoration funds to fund irrigator compliance with the California ESA.

But Carl did not go far enough. The Environmental Community also has disappointingly low expectations for lawmakers. For example, the Sierra Club and other "major e-groups" are supporting wilderness bills that omit all areas that are coveted by the OHV crowd and remain silent when politicians tack anti-environmental titles onto wilderness bills. While in the past we challenged senators and congressmen to take on the opponents of wilderness, now we allow them to pander to anti-environmental interests without having to pay a political price. This is a consequence of professional environmentalists becoming too cozy with the politicians.

Maybe Carl Pope can lead us to more effectively challenge public officials who refuse to do their jobs. A regular feature in Sierra which point out endemic agency corruption and names names would be a good start. But Carl should also lead the Sierra Club to raise the bar for politicians who want the Club's endorsement. Allowing politicians who pander to OHV and other anti-environmental interests to get the Club's support is part of the problem; raising the bar must be part of the solution.

Felice Pace
Klamath California

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