Western Papers Decry Attacks on Resource Agents

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Western Papers Decry Attacks on Resource Agents
by George Miller
Western Papers Decry Attacks on Resource Agents. Congressional Record. July 20, 1995. Extensions of Remarks. Page E1480-E1481. DOCID:cr20jy95-15. (available online)

Thursday, July 20, 1995

Mr. MILLER of California. Mr. Speaker, we are all familiar with the rhetoric of the special interests who benefit from public resources-- mining companies, subsidized irrigators, timber companies, coal companies. We hear the same inflated rhetoric from the leaders of the media, county rights, property rights, and Western movements:

The government is threatening our property; the government is controlling our land; the government is conspiring to take away our liberties.

And, moreover, we are told that these allegedly anti-Western actions are promoted by Eastern elites who just don't understand the Western way of life.

The fact is that vigorous defense of our public resource and environmental protection laws is spread throughout the West and the Southwest just as it is through every other region of the country. People in Utah and Montana, California and Oregon, Idaho and Arizona are just as outraged by our giving away of billions of dollars to international mining corporations as people in New York and Florida. They are just as angered by the billions we waste on subsidized forest practices or irrigation subsidies.

The so-called Western voices we hear, in many cases, are the voices of anti-government extremists and the free-enterprise spouting but publicly subsidized corporations that are conspiring to destroy sound management practices.

No aspect of the extremist assault on the environment is more outrageous than the growing threats, intimidations and assaults on law enforcement officials who defend public resources and the people who use them. This House just voted to cut law enforcement funds for the Bureau of Land Management, on whose lands more than 12,000 crimes occurred last year. We have been unable to secure formal hearings in the Judiciary and Resources Committees on the issues of militias and attacks on Federal law enforcement officials. So, the attacks go on, the threats go on, and the Republican leadership of the Congress turns a deaf ear--or worse--to this scandalous behavior.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the fact is that people in the West do not share the extremist analysis or the extremist agenda. As usual, it is a tiny fraction of people who, for whatever misguided reason, have decided that the government is the enemy. Large numbers of Western Members of the House have joined us in passing legislation to protect the environment and to reform resource policy as recently as last year.

The reason is that westerners don't like to see their lands desecrated or their resources exploited any more than southerners or easterners. If you're a taxpayer living in Boise or Billings, or Salt Lake, or Seattle, you're every bit as outraged as the hundreds of millions of dollars with which we subsidize grazers, or irrigators, or mining companies. People are moving to these Western areas because they treasure the land and want it preserved, not opened up, blown up and peeled back in the relentless search for private profit.

I want to insert into the RECORD a recent editorial from the Seattle Times-Intelligencer, a distinguished Western newspaper, that speaks eloquently to these issues. I am also including an editorial from the San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle that speaks to the obsession of the Republican leadership with the Waco shootout but its seeming indifference to the threats to public officials.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).