Op-Ed: How the U.S. came to protect the natural world — and exploit it at the same time
By Dan Merica
President Barack Obama has spent his adult life thinking and working to preserve our nation’s natural heritage. After he was elected in 2008, the American people, as he himself has said, sent a message to him “that they want their parks back on the path towards health.” He has been an ardent defender of the National Park Service, calling it “the nation’s top defender of America’s outdoor heritage.” And he’s done all that to keep it fighting for the public good.
And then there are the places Obama can’t defend. The National Mall. The Great Lakes. The Appalachian National Scenic Trail. The Yellowstone Ecosystem.
Yes, the President, who knows how to use the word “ecosystem,” likes to claim that he’s protecting them from “overconsumption.”
Not exactly. They’re not even being overconsumed: The federal government is merely using them as a dumping ground for toxic refuse — to the extent we have any use for them anyway.
These parks are not going anywhere. The president can’t stop the Park Service from selling land and selling the parks to the highest bidder. A park can’t even prevent its government agencies, the National Park Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, from giving it away to private interests, as happened on a massive scale with the national parks in New York and Virginia in the first few months after World War II.
I’m talking about the national parks, of course, because those are the places where the U.S. government is most aggressive with what it calls “ecosystem conservation.”
From the beginning of this administration, there was the announcement that the National Park Service would be getting a new superintendent. It won’t be the outgoing superintendent, Randy Babbitt, who has been