Letter: How rich will we be?

Sunday, December 17, 2017
How rich will we be?

The recently passed tax bill includes a provision authorizing the sale of oil and gas leases in the most biologically rich portion of the Arctic Refuge. This is an issue about public lands that belong to all Americans. In a true democracy, decisions that will determine the type of world we leave to future generations are openly discussed, debated and voted on, not hidden in unrelated tax legislation to oil and gas industries.

One hundred years ago, Theodore Roosevelt declared Pelican Island a Federal Bird Reserve, beginning what is now our National Wildlife Refuge System. In his words: “Wild beasts and birds are by right not the property merely of the people who are alive today, but the property of unknown generations, whose belongings we have no right to squander.”

Fifty-seven years ago, Dwight Eisenhower established the Arctic Wildlife Refuge “for the purpose of preserving unique wildlife, wilderness and recreational values.” His interior secretary declared this area “biologically irreplaceable land,” offering “the only opportunity for this nation to preserve an undisturbed portion of the Arctic large enough to be biologically self-sufficient.”

The Trump administration is now attempting to dismantle this legacy of wildlife conservation, created by Republican presidents who had real compassion – the compassion, in the words of Albert Einstein, “to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.”

“How rich will we be when we have converted all our forests, all our soil, all our water resources and our minerals into cash?” (Ding Darling)