Sunday, October 30, 2005

Pombo Time

The lead editorial in the today's New York Times features none other than Richard Pombo.

Richard Pombo has had a hard time keeping himself out of the news lately. In late September, a watchdog group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington named Mr. Pombo, a seven-term House member from California, one of the 13 most corrupt politicians in Congress. Three weeks later the Center for Public Integrity accused him of taking junkets paid for by the International Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources - the kind of organization, heavy with corporate donors, in which the word "conservation" is a wink to the wise. And last week the League of Conservation Voters accused him of selling out to a long list of corporate interests.

But what has really put Mr. Pombo on everyone's radar is the steady stream of environmentally destructive legislation flowing from the House Resources Committee, which he runs. The legislation would undermine environmental safeguards and raise broad new threats to endangered species and public lands.


Mr. Pombo's bill would also authorize drilling in coastal areas that have been off limits for decades and sell leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. But asking the oil companies themselves for money is, of course, unthinkable - Mr. Pombo would freeze the fees these companies pay to operate on public land, even as they report huge profits.

This is, in short, a sleazy piece of work, written by a man who appears to be able to conceive of property rights as something that only a private individual or a corporation can have; a man who betrays no awareness that the American public has a shared right in the refuge and the national parks and the millions of acres he wants to sell to developers.

Mr. Pombo's only idea, and it is a terrible one, is to treat this nation the way he treats his Congressional district, as if it were ripe for exploitation.


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