558 N. Main St., Prineville, OR 97754 | (541) 447-6205
In a recent news release, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley was congratulated for scoring 100 percent on the 2012 National Environmental Scorecard.
He also received a perfect lifetime score, which is a first for any senator.
Given the complexity of many of the environmental issues at hand and their impact on the economy and Oregon residents, we do not believe that receiving 100 percent on this scorecard is a good thing.
The scorecard is released by the Oregon League of Conservation Voters (LCV) and the National League of Conservation Voters. The LCV is a national non-profit organization that believes in a pro-environment Congress, and works to pass pro-environment laws and elect pro-environment candidates. In short, LCV works to turn environmental values (theirs) into national priorities.
That all sounds environmental-friendly and platonic on the surface, but ask a rancher who has locked horns with an extreme environmental group when protecting their cattle from wolves, or a logging firm who has faced the blockage of one timber sale after another by environmental groups. We wonder how they would perceive Merkley’s score. It is doubtful that it would provide much comfort in the big scheme of things.
Our representatives have to look at the picture from more than one extreme perspective, and remember that all issues affect real people.
It begs the question of whether Merkley is really watching out for the best interests of our public lands, waterways, but most of all, the Oregonians he represents. If environmental groups are dictating our political agendas, what does the scorecard really say if you have a 100 percent score?
Oregon’s landscape has seen a great deal of damage due to extreme policies, many of which are driven by the very groups that claim to protect our waterways and our forests. The proof is in the landscape — bug-infested forests that are overgrown with underbrush, with little or no forest management. Timber sales are blocked, leaving the land vulnerable to extreme forest fires.
There are reasons to believe that Merkley sees these issues, based on an amendment he proposed which was aimed at putting people to work in the woods and improving the health of Oregon’s overgrown forests. It passed the Senate Budget Committee in March with bipartisan support.
“Driving across Oregon and looking at our overgrown federal forests, it’s clear that something has to be done,” commented Merkley in a news release. “This amendment will help put Oregonians to work in our woods and create a healthier environment. We can’t keep standing on the sidelines while rural communities are shuttered due to lack of jobs and our forests burn every summer. Congress needs to establish a new approach to managing our federal forests that provides for sustainable timber harvests while protecting our natural treasures and this amendment creates the budget space to do it.”
On the other hand, if Merkley received a 100 percent score on the National Environmental Scorecard, how did this amendment get by the environmental groups? We have to wonder if he is really concerned about jobs or whether his agenda satisfies the LCV? It is hard to imagine doing both.