Thursday, October 30, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Former U.S. Secretary of the Interior issues wake-up call in Davis speech

By
From page A1 | October 06, 2013 |

Former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt spoke Friday at UC Davis at an event marking the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act. Courtesy photo

Former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt spoke Friday at UC Davis at an event marking the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act. Courtesy photo

More than 200 academics, advocates and those interested in environmental law packed into UC Davis’ King Hall for an examination of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Endangered Species Act on its 40th anniversary.

Former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt delivered the keynote address at Friday’s daylong event. He spoke of the Endangered Species Act’s victories, but its potential to fail in the hands of inept leadership.

No surprise considering that the 75-year-old conservationist, who served under former President Bill Clinton for eight years, started his speech with a concession that what he had to say would likely be controversial:

“The blowback has already begun, just from the drafts that have circulated,” he said. “In some quarters, it’s seen as launching an unjustified attack on the oil and gas industry; others that it’s polemic against organizations I once solicited.”

But before getting into any potential condemnations he outlined for the crowd the activities he’s spent time on for the past four years. Most of it has been out of the public eye, as he said, working in South America.

Babbitt explained that his involvement there was in large part because of his appreciation for the beauty of the long-untouched wilderness of the Amazon Basin. There, some indigenous tribes have yet to establish any ties with modern society.

After speaking so fondly of the region, which is one of the world’s most bio-diverse, he came to his concerns: that destructive oil and gas facilities have become more prevalent among the rainforest’s landscape.

He’s spent the last few years advocating for offshore-inland development for the area, which eliminates roads having to be built to these sites. Everything that would enter or leave the facility does so by planes or underground pipelines.

The background he provided tied back into the Endangered Species Act with mention of the uncertain fate of the greater sage grouse. More than 80 percent of the remaining habitat of this bird, of which a majority is in Wyoming, is under threat, according to a report by WildEarth Guardians.

“And that principal threat is the oil and gas industry,” Babbitt said. “There is minimal impact work (the aforementioned offshore–inland development) that is not being used here.”

These industries made efforts to bring their developments into the 21st century in other countries, he added, but have operated as if it’s the 19th century in America. This sentiment he punctuated with, “OK, now I’m getting polemic,” bringing laughter to the auditorium.

Babbitt in part blamed the Fish and Wildlife Service for not doing all it can to regulate habitat decimation from the uncontrolled drilling in places like Wyoming, which has plans for an additional 23,000 wells in the near future, according to the Wyoming Star Tribune.

But he highlighted potential by listing the sage grouse under the agency’s own Endangered Species Act to remedy the situation. Doing so would make additional federal funding available for protecting the bird’s habitat with conservation easements.

He referenced the California condor, gray wolf and the grizzly bear as successes of the safeguarding measures, as each recovered from the brink of extinction thanks to it.

“Probably the most important lesson in the past 40 years has been that most species become endangered through loss of habitat,” Babbitt said.

The sage grouse has already been proposed as a candidate for Endangered Species Act listing, and Fish and Wildlife Service has until 2015 to make a decision on whether or not to do so.

“But there’s a trend emerging in Wyoming: In anticipation of a possible listing, the state has taken a preemptive strategy to protect the interests of private landowners,” he said. “And the Fish and Wildlife Service has had little to say about the plan’s implications since it was established.”

In conclusion, he expressed a desire for the agency to do more than act as bystanders to these political machinations. His suggestion to “restore integrity to the planning process” was for vested leaders to take a more active role in it.

Earlier this year, Babbitt pressed President Barack Obama to set aside an acre of public land for conservation for every acre that is leased for oil and gas development.

Sharon Duggins, an Oakland attorney who has experience with nonprofits committed to ESA work, was one of the many present for the discussion. She offered her perspective on it afterwards:

“He can pretty well describe the politics of trying to get what you need. And I don’t think that should come as a surprise, given his prior work.

“But I was surprised, in terms of the oil and gas context, that he didn’t take it one step further and speak about climate change. He basically said we need a new approach to oil and gas, but didn’t talk about whether we need to be doing it as much as we are to begin with.”

— Reach Brett Johnson at bjohnson@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8052. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterBrett.

Comments

comments

.

News

Meet Archer, Poppenga and Sunder

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
UCD prof will speak in Woodland

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Eichorn’s shredding event benefits STEAC

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
All voices welcome at sing-along

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Community forum devoted to returning military personnel

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Davis Media Access: Treasures from the vault get new life

By Autumn Labbe-Renault | From Page: A3

Kids ready to trick-or-treat for UNICEF

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Celebrate Day of the Dead on Sunday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Low-water landscape workshop planned

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

Sending ‘Hugs from Home’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Yolo RCD welcomes new executive director

By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A5

Volunteers sought to advocate for kids

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Sudwerk Ultimator arrives with a vengeance

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

.

Forum

Duo are the best-informed

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Humble and hard-working

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

Yes on 47 for our safety

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Something’s missing

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
This is a terrific trio

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

Elect Poppenga to school board

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
.

Sports

Something’s got to give as Aggies host UNC

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Davis vs Goliath: Devils travel to take on Grant

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1

DHS escapes with a Senior Night victory

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Aggies hope to turn Gauchos into net zombies

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

MVP Bumgarner leads Giants to World Series win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Aggie loss allows Gauchos to tie them for first

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

Warriors whip Kings is their season opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Youth roundup: Diamonds have a ball at Disco-Tech

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

JV/frosh roundup: Rio falls to DHS boys, who then take fifth at tourney

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Sports briefs: Double dip for Devil tennis team

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8

.

Features

College Corner: Going the honors route

By Jennifer Borenstein | From Page: A10

 
Chávez kids are movin’

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A10 | Gallery

Kids walk for friends at Birch Lane

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

 
What’s happening

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A10

.

Arts

Wineaux: Calming and curbing the crouching curmudgeon

By Susan Leonardi | From Page: A11

 
Hear Amplified DNA on Saturday at winery

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

Thursday Live! plans jazz and blues

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
DMTC plans ‘My Fair Lady’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11 | Gallery

International Film Series continues with ‘Australia’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
DHS Madrigals host singing workshop

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

All are welcome at Fun Time Follies

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Comics: Thursday, October 30, 2014

By Creator | From Page: A9