Seeing the Light
"Everyone needs to read this!" Has a thunder thought like
that ever occurred to you from reading something especially exceptional?
At that instant, it doesn’t occur to you that only edicts from heaven
change the world. You are convinced that any of your neighbors would
"see the light" if they could only see that text. That
is exactly how I felt after reading the 15 page transcript of Robert
F. Kennedy, Jr’s speech given at Highland Lakes last spring on environmental
stewardship. Here was an empowering collection of wit, passion and
plain downright common sense that should be everyone’s required
The importance of Mr. Kennedy’s words seem further heightened by
this recent headline in the Washington Post , "New Environment Chairman
Opposes Many Protections." With the changing of the guard in Washington,
Republican Sen. James M Inhofe (Okla.) will become the chairman
of The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. As the Post
relates, "Inhofe, by contrast, is a conservative who has championed
his state’s oil and gas industry and opposed many environmental
protection initiatives. The former U.S. representative and real
estate developer had special disdain for the Environmental Protection
Agency throughout the Clinton Administration and once called it
a "Gestapo bureaucracy…Environmentalists and some Democrats predict
major upheaval on the committee as Inhofe attempts to impose his
views over the Democratic minority and moderate Republicans…As chairman
of a subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Clean air Act, Inhofe
tried to thwart implementation of new air standards aimed at reducing
ozone and controlling particulate matter. He fought new regulations
for the oil industry, including a measure to reduce the health-threatening
sulfur content of gasoline. He also supported a moratorium on new
listings to the Endangered Species Act; voted against raising fees
for grazing cattle on federal lands; supported the timber industry’s
interests in logging in national forests; supported a bill to establish
an aboveground nuclear waste site in Nevada and opposed major Everglades
restoration legislation." (WP 12/30/02)
As I was saying, this may be a good time to listen to the sage words
of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. They begin: "I was involved in the battle
to save the Catskills, which was New York City’s water supply…The
challenge was that the Catskills were facing sprawl development
that we now know is the worst contributor to pollution. Pavement
is the worst thing that you can do to a watershed. If you pave as
little as 10% of a watershed, you permanently and irreparably destroy
the biological integrity of the river systems that it feeds… the
people who lived in the Catskills were among the most impoverished
communities in New York State. 70% of the people lived below the
poverty line and they were very jealous about their sovereignty
and very suspicious of New York City and other outsiders. There
are 400 dairy farms in the Catskills and they did not want any regulation…we
sat for 2 years in these meetings. 270 meetings. We ultimately produced
a document that was 1500 pages long. There was blood shed over every
word in that document. But, it will permanently protect the Catskill
…the vision is that the towns are allowed to grow and economic vitality
to flourish, but they have to grow upwards within the existing infrastructure
and that we restrict growth in the open landscapes…But the restrictions
come with money. We invested $80,000 in every farm in the Catskills.
398 of them signed up for the program and now the proudest people
in the Catskills are the dairy farm communities…All of them put
conservation easements on the waterways. That was one of the restrictions.
They stopped using liquefied manure. They began building storage
sheds for their manure. And, now it’s a clean industry and people
who take part in that industry are really proud to be part of this
process. And, we did that through negotiation and through incentives,
rather than regulation.
…At the first meeting the head of the Delaware County Dairy Contingent
stood up and Governor Pataki was sitting next to me at that meeting.
And, he pointed at Governor Pataki and he said,…if you think you
are going to let New York City buy one acre of conservation land
in the Catskills we are going to meet you on Route 23 with our shotguns
and we’ll make the Oklahoma City bombing look like childs’s play.
And, they were threatening to blow up the dams and do a number of
other things, very openly.
But now, that man, I visited him at his home on many occasions now
and eat lunch with him and his family. And, we have a very friendly
relationship and that community is one of our biggest supporters…the
…the environmentalist fight is not a battle… to preserve the fishes
and the birds against human interests. It’s about how do we meet
the challenge of creating communities that have the same opportunity
for dignity and enrichment for our children as the communities that
our parents gave us.
Environmental injury is deficit spending. It's a way of loading
the costs of our generation's prosperity onto the backs of our children.
And, let me say this, there is no stronger advocate for free market
capitalism than myself... But, in a true free market economy, you
can't make yourself rich without making your neighbors rich and
without enriching your community. But, what polluters do is that
they make themselves rich by making everybody else poor... By using
political clout to evade the free market and force the public to
pay their production costs, or at least part of them... Liquidate
assets for cash and feed the hunger of today's constituencies to
the detriment of their children. The future whispers, the present
I want to make one final point. This is really important…we are
not protecting these waterways for the sake of the fishes and birds.
We are protecting them for our sake and that we protect nature because
nature enriches us…And all that word means is that God wants us
to use the things that we have been given, the bounties of the earth,
to improve our lives, to serve others, but we can’t use them up.
We can’t sell the farm piece by piece in order to pay for the groceries.
We can’t drain the pond to catch the fish. We can’t cut down the
mountain to get at the coal. We can live off the interest, we can’t
go into the capital. That belongs to our children."
To my readers: If you ever wonder if I get
comments on these columns, I do occasionally. What are your thoughts
on the matter?
opinions stated in this page are those of Ms. Eva Ritchey and do
not necessarily represent the views of CyTech Computers & Internet