Monday, October 16, 2006

Pombo bill could bring him benefits

One of my least favorite politicians, Richard Pombo of Tracy, California, is in the news today. In fact, there's a frontpage headline on a bill that he's trying to get passed in the Senate (he's in the House, ironically chairman of the House Resources Committee, charged with oversight and setting policy on matters like natural resources and Native Americans).

This bill has been winding its way through Congress for a couple of years now. Essentially, it's a bill that seeks to provide landowners a "market rate" for land that they own but cannot develop in any way due to federal protection under the Endangered Species Act. This would essentially bankrupt the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the federal entity that would be responsible for paying the landowners for non use of their land (kind of like how the Department of Agriculture pays farmers NOT to grow corn). If that department goes belly-up, which other federal departments are likely to follow?

Pombo and his family own a lot of agricultural land in San Joaquin County, smack dab in the middle of the state of California. I remember seeing the "Pombo" signs in the Central Valley while traveling with my family to visit relatives in Modesto and surrounding areas. His name is recognizable in the area as anybody's. He's in the back pocket of Jack Abramoff, Tom DeLay, and John Doolittle, some of the most corrupt political insiders and politicians around today.

Here's an interesting fact about how the Bush administration, under the watchful guidance of people like Pombo, cares about our environment and its inhabitants:
Federal officials have added an average of 9.5 species a year to the endangered list under President Bush, compared with 65 a year under President Bill Clinton and 59 a year under President George H.W. Bush. They have designated as "critical habitat" only half the acreage recommended by federal biologists. And they are transferring key decision-making powers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to other agencies with different priorities.
That's a pretty big drop off.