Enviro Groups Coordinating to Send Pombo Out to Pasture

First, a quick recommendation — wasn’t here last night because Jan and I actually went out. If you ever get the chance to see Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori’s Caroline, or Change, go…

I haven’t done much on politics lately, simply because others are doing it so well (Dave at Gristmill seems to be well-focused in this direction). When I saw that environmental groups are actually coordinating efforts to defeat California Rep. Richard Pombo, though, I wanted to add my effort to getting the word out, as this clown’s got to go. Pombo’s attempts to rewrite the Endangered Species Act made headlines late last year, but that’s just one element of an overall evil record on things environmental. From Alternet:

Pombo’s 11th District is a Republican anomaly in the otherwise heavily Democratic Bay Area of Northern California. The 11th contains some of the agricultural Central Valley and stretches into the Bay’s tech corridor, spreading across four counties. In the more than 12 years he’s been in Congress, Pombo’s district has become home to some of the most horrendous stretches of strip malls and cultureless housing tracts in California. According to the East Bay Express, Pombo’s father and uncles have made tens of millions of dollars selling farm and ranch land to developers. And on Pombo’s watch, his district also has come to have some of the worst air quality and drinking water in the country.

While Pombo, who embodies the Republican archetype of the fake rancher, waxes on about “the land” and the generations of Pombo farmers, he has quietly worked his legislative powers to sell his family’s acreage to the government for an unnecessary freeway add-on.

And it should come as little surprise that Pombo has danced with lobbyist Jack Abramoff. He ranks fifth on the money list of politicians who have taken money from the Abramoff’s cash nexus, raking in $54,500. In exchange, Pombo had his fling with the Mariana Islands and played cowboy and Indian casinos. But these political sins don’t come up to the ankles of the work he’s done to destroy the environment as chair of the House Resources Committee, which then-Majority Leader Tom DeLay cherrypicked him to run in 2003.

It is there that Pombo has committed his worst offenses. And he has done most of it in the neutral-sounding procedural language of committee hearings. Here’s a sample from his recent rewrite of the Endangered Species Act, which he managed to ram through the House of Representatives this fall, now awaiting passage in the Senate:

  • (A) in the matter preceding subparagraph (A), by inserting “with respect to a determination of a species to be an endangered species or a threatened species” after “any regulation”; and
  • (B) in subparagraph (B), by striking “the State agency in” and inserting “the Governor of, and State agency in,”

Not quite the same as gut-wrenching imagery of an arctic oil spill or the clubbing of baby seals to be sure. But it’s important to remember that what Pombo has the power to do — and has already done — is rewrite the very Endangered Species Act itself. And that amounts to fewer whooping cranes, fewer grizzlies, fewer Chinook salmon. Not only this, Pombo’s rewrite contains an absurd provision that has the federal government paying real estate developers and oil companies not to kill wildlife.

Calling Pombo a whack-job anti-environmentalist doesn’t nearly do service to his record; rather, he’s using anti-environmental rhetoric as a cover for enriching himself, his family and his buddies. I know — hard to believe a Delay Republican would be involved in such things. Though the article doesn’t say anything about it, and I don’t know how California primaries work in terms of party affiliation, I wonder if anyone’s mentioned the idea of liberals and progressives voting in the Republican primary just to see if he can’t be defeated there…

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