A double ban gets a double reversal

Reining in the regulatory power grab.


“Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recently made several important decisions that have naturally raised the hackles of extreme environmentalists,” writes Paul Driessen. “One replaces “let them get overgrown and burn” mismanagement with policies that again actively manage and care for our national forests to prevent conflagrations, protect wildlife and their habitats, and save human lives and property.

“A second decision reverses yet another Obama era sue-and-settle regulatory action that banned the planting of genetically engineered crops and use of our safest pesticides in certain wildlife refuges.

“This article provides the background and details.”

A double ban gets a double reversal

Interior Department reverses activist-initiated Obama-era ban on farming activities in refuges

Paul Driessen

I don’t pull my punches over destructive, inhumane or just plain lunatic policies demanded by extreme environmentalists. I criticize them, as well as friends and “good guys,” when I think they got it wrong on energy or environmental issues. I also offer praise when it is deserved.

When Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Ryan Zinke – whom I admire greatly – let a last-minute Obama endangered species designation for the “Rusty Patched Bumblebee” (RPB) take effect in March 2017, I faulted the decision (here and here). Now I want to praise his recent decision to reopen certain wildlife refuges to modern farming practices.

The RPB decision did the unthinkable. It gave Interior’s often hyper-activist U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) potential veto power over every farm operation, building project and land use decision across 378 million Eastern and Midwestern acres, the RPB’s (possible) erstwhile habitat. That’s equal to Montana, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana combined!

Collusive sue-and-settle lawsuits 

All to “protect” a ground-nesting bee that provides minimal pollinating services, has supposedly been sighted” a number of times since 2000 in 13 states, has long been rare for multiple reasons, and got its “endangered” status due to an collusive sue-and-settle lawsuit between agitators and regulators.

This is the same FWS that told a timber company it had to create “potential” habitat on its land in Louisiana for a “dusky gopher frog” that has not been seen in the state for 33 years and could not survive on the 1,544 acres of company land selected by the FWS, because the chosen area did not offer essential habitat conditions. So Fish and Wildlife ordered the company to convert the land into “suitable” habitat, at company expense – after which the company could never cut trees in the area!

The RPB decision was particularly perilous for farmers because, just a few years earlier, the Service had eagerly negotiated yet another sue-and-settle style agreement with radical greens in the Center for Food Safety, to ban genetically engineered crops (aka GMOs) and neonicotinoid insecticides on the extensive lands the FWS leases to farmers in often enormous U.S. wildlife refuges.

The ban was issued without any public consultation or comment period. Worse, it was wholly at odds with USDA and EPA findings on the environmental safety of both GMOs and neonics. But it was a huge gift to activists who have been campaigning against those technologies for years. It set a dangerous precedent of basing government decisions on “precautionary” criteria, much like Europe’s wholly unscientific regulatory process, which is completely antithetical to the risk-based U.S. system.

The infinitely malleable “precautionary” pseudo-guideline says chemicals and other technologies should be restricted or banned if there is any possibility (or accusation by radical activists) that they could be harmful, even if no evidence-based cause-effect link can be shown.

Even worse, the “Precautionary Principle” only examines (often inflated) risks from using technologies that activists or regulators dislike. It never considers the risks of not using them – or risks that using them could reduce or eliminate. Just as perversely, anti-technology factions ignore or actively suppress evidence of harmful impacts from supposed alternatives – and from any technologies they support.

Scientific evidence is not needed

The European Union has formalized the Precautionary Principle as official policy. Regulators thus have carte blanche authority to take any action, at any time, no matter how arbitrary, based on the claim that sometime in the future, in ways not yet understood, something might possibly have a negative impact on people or the environment. Scientific evidence is not needed.

It’s an open door to regulation by activists who are experts at raising alarms and making claims of impending Armageddon unless a targeted technology is banned. Europe’s embrace of “precaution” in agricultural regulation is a major reason why the continent has become a net importer of food, despite having some of the most fertile land and predictably temperate weather in the world.

If this horrendous refuge precedent had stood, combined with the Endangered Species Act, it could have given a few USFWS activist regulators the power to micro-manage enormous swaths of the American public and private landmass, and large segments of the nation’s agricultural and construction economy.

Its impacts would have been felt almost as widely as the infamous “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule that presidential candidate Donald Trump vowed to kill and which the EPA under Scott Pruitt began to dismantle – or the even more insidious Paris climate treaty, which would have given international and United Nations climate alarmists control over the entire U.S. economy.

I’m therefore happy to note that Mr. Zinke Department has implemented a double reversal of the USFW double ban. In an August 2 memo, Interior again spelled out the need to raise crops in parts of wildlife refuges to provide food for people and forage for ducks, geese and other wildlife – and to note the important role that genetically engineered plants and neonics play in that effort.

Not one iota of scientific sense

Of course, the GMO-neonic ban never made an iota of scientific sense. Hundreds of government and independent studies – and decades of eating and other real-world experience – confirm that GMOs are as safe for human and animal consumption as the almost 100% of crops that have been genetically modified by traditional breeding … or by soaking seeds in harsh chemicals or bombarding them with radiation to cause multiple mutations, some desirable, others unknown, but just fine with organic food promoters.

Equally important, the massively funded environmentalist campaign against neonics was based heavily on the wholly fabricated “bee-pocalypse” scare of several years ago. As most people now know, honeybee populations have been rising the entire time since neonics were first used, and the problems honeybees had for several years were due to due to Varroa destructor mites and an assortment of bee diseases.

Anti-neonic agitation also ran headlong into EPA’s scientific risk assessments. Even amid the regulatory frenzy of the final Obama years, EPA could find no scientific reason to take away the long-standing approvals of these vital crop production tools, which target only insects that actually feed on crop plants.

Not surprisingly, though, once the honeybee-pocalypse was debunked, activists immediately switched gears to the equally fraudulent claim that wild bees are on the path to extinction – because of neonics, of course. However, wild bee problems are also almost entirely due to disease and long-term habitat loss.

The vast majority of wild bee species are “doing just fine,” prominent U.S. Geological Survey wild bee expert Sam Droege has noted. Even more telling, a recent global study of wild bees found that those which pollinate crops and thus come into most frequent contact with neonics are flourishing.

Greens have already announced they will sue to block the refuge decision, but that’s par for the course.

Secretary Zinke deserves high praise for starting to rein in USFWS’s regulatory power grab. However, it’s only a start. There’s much more left to do: at Interior, Agriculture, Energy and of course EPA.

Next up should be the Fish and Wildlife Service’s role in implementing the Endangered Species Act. Even if congressional attempts to rein in some of the worst abuses of the ESA finally succeed, after years of futility resulting from environmentalist intransigence, agency activists will find ways around them.

Mr. Zinke also deserves major kudos for pushing back on the nonsensical claim that 129 million dead trees in California, repeated conflagrations that completely wipe out wildlife habitats and species, over 700,000 once-Golden State acres burned so far this summer (Rhode Island plus Washington, DC), and 57 Californians killed by forest fires in two years – are due to that all-purpose villain: climate change.

Keep the eco-power-grabbers under control

As the Secretary makes clear, this horrific destruction is the result of near-criminal mismanagement of that state’s forests, at the behest of rabid greens who refuse to allow any timber harvesting anywhere.

There’s an old saying that “personnel is policy.” Secretary Zinke next needs to replace DOI zealots with permanent, career service land and resource managers who can keep the eco-power-grabbers under control, by honestly, dispassionately and transparently applying evidence-based science to rulemaking.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death and other books and articles on energy, climate change, economic development and human rights.

19 thoughts on “A double ban gets a double reversal”

  1. I’m gonna hav to disagree with the lifting of the ban on gmo crops and pesticides. I like the active forest management tho

  2. The belief that GMOs are infinitely safe is so full of BS that it really isn’t funny. If there is anything we should have learned, it is that mankind’s thinking is not infallible.

    It is definitely not infallible that GMO is potential dangerous since there is no way forward of knowing what mutation might change the very nature of what was made. I am not talking about cross pollination techniques that are likewise, GMO, I am talking about gene-splicing some “assumed” feature from one plant or specie into another.

    We are entering a period of much higher cosmic ray influx, and there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of knowing what that could do the genetic makeup of some damn plant crossed between plant and animal or bacterium. There isn’t much hope of knowing what it would do to God’s creations, either, but I suspect it stands a better chance of being beneficial than who knows what.

  3. Herne and Tom O… I agree… Man does not need to be playing creator and letting these things change natural selection. A hybrid either does not work or it does for a reason beyond our comprehension… To force changes past natural acceptance that might destroy the crops of a whole continent should never be played with at all.

  4. There is a world of difference between normal plant breeding and splicing in a gene from a bacteria.

    In particular, using the Bt toxin as a “crop protectant” means you have a toxin IN every cell of the plant where it can not be washed off or removed.

    Workers who are regularly exposed to Bt in sprays have some percent develop allergies to it. It is a known allergen.

    What happens when one day you wake up and can eat NO food with Bt built into it? Hmmm? How do you know which foods those are? It has been shown that Bt corn causes digestive and reproductive issues in cattle feeds.

    Think about it.

  5. On a vaguely related topic: Still 11 sleepies to the end of “WOMXN’s MONTH”. How do one pronounce “womxn”? Starting as in “WOMbat”? Is the spelling of “man” also changed to “mxn” as in “chairmxn”? For the Aussies, is “Manly Beach” to become “Mxnly Beach”.

    @Tom O. Your concern is that some farmer may get strangled or bitten by a monster created from GMO corn a la “X-Files”.

  6. glad i am not the lone voice on the GMO section, neonic are SYSTEMIC every cell inc nectar and pollen are toxic to bees
    and Bayer themselves admit that!
    the radiated mutated crops that slid under the gene mod by lab are labelled as Clearfield brand in aus and SHOULD be banned immediately. the back label and restrictions on seed sale n use are a clone of the gm admitting ones!
    i agree fully with intelligently done burning.
    problem is -if its like aus- they end up with quotas of acres NOT necessarily meaning the really badly overburdened brush areas get burnt!
    theyre in hard to access places.
    so our DWELP land management tend to REburn the same areas about every 5 yrs
    in our case eucy will regenerate BUT some take 5 yrs to recover and as much as 15yrs between fires to begin reflowering and nectar
    which ruins any areas beekeepers lease in 10yr (getting expensive) agreements.
    imagine paying 10yrs in advance and not being able to raise a single cent of that, let alone a profit at all in return?

  7. Frosts in August are not typical of Moscow Region.
    (IA “Meteonovosti”)

    As soon as in August in the suburbs the power of the anticyclone is established, there is a threat of a minimum temperature for this time of year. Truck farmers are afraid of freezing.
    In what areas, and with what frequency can freezing be formed?

    Over the past 80 years, the lowest temperature in August was observed in 1977 on the 20th day in the extreme east of the Moscow region, in Cherusti: -1.8°C.

    The last time freezing in the air was observed on August 24, 2015, in Cherusti it was -0.1°C.

    In the rest of the Moscow region, there were no frosts in August since 1975.

    *(Cherusti is 180Km east from Moscou).

  8. Monsanto ‘owns’ every GMO it creates! The farmers have NO choice to replant at great expense as the GMO seeds dont reproduce! Messing with DNA is a disaster. The history of MONSANTO isnt good, agent orange is one! Fraudulent coverups of GMO disasters and negative results. Sorry this is one so called environmental thing I oppose (GMO), besides nuclear bomb testing.

  9. Got to agree with the other anti GMO replies, in India it caused rioting and nearly ruined their agriculture as the farmers could not afford the seeds to replant. Hardly feeding the multitude as the propaganda would have us believe.

    On the sterile side haven’t they been telling us for a couple of decades now that the wheatgerm within foods is good for us yet isn’t this what is being taken out in sterilising the plant? The true nutritional value of our food continues on an unhealthy downward trend.

    • Hi David, no they done take the wheatgerm out. the sterile versions of some plants- from originally a hidden subsidiary called Delta Pine and Land, now namechanged and flogging mostly GMO cotton (even in aus) grr!
      were meant to require a certain chemical timed to prior to seedset to kick it in
      if not applied no seed.
      fine n dandy ha! and if it like all the rest outcrossed (was helped to escape) then how many neighbours crops would be lost? not just ruined with crosspollination and monmongrels hands out for cash for UNwanted contaminant..

      friend has a very good webpage called FarmWars@wordpress.com
      might be useful to you to read up a bit.

  10. When I see a product marked, “low GM” or “GM-free” I always look for an alternative. In principle I am against all environmental activism, which I regard as the continuation of communism after the fall of the Berlin wall.

    • All environmental activism?

      A canal nearby me now has fish back and the swans have returned, the footpaths are now a pleasure to walk and the barges are back only carrying holidaymakers.
      I live in what was a highly industrialised City so whilst not as bad as the infamous London ‘Pea Soupers’ it was bad enough at times, one had to go to school with a scarf round one’s neck and that’s a healthy youngster those with any respiratory problems at all were in serious trouble.
      So that’s from personal experience I know that I would be able to bring up many, many examples that prove that a certain amount of environmental care is necessary and desirable.
      To be contrarian just because there are other things about concern for health you dislike or feel is impairing rather than improving does you no credit at all.

      • agreed;-) the biggest problem is that many DO begin to hate all ecological problems in disgust at the theft/appropriation of what WAS once serious honest issues that DID need people to protest and lobby
        a lot of us older gen who once called ourselves “green” minded are disgusted and dis-associated from the present crop of ill informed but vocal SJW’s with so little actual understanding of the causes theyre “all for”
        protest for the social kudos and NOT doing research or only following some pratt like the goracle…makes me so wild.
        tesla and leaf types virtue signalling while NOT even twigging they are a serious problem the vehicles batteries rare earth mining etc

      • I am not against the environment. I don’t hunt, don’t pull fish with a hook in their lips for “sport”. I dislike the unnecessary cutting down of trees. I hate it to see animals killed by careless motorists. I am against the green movement because of its extremist, anti-development attitude.

  11. rereading i have to DE debunk your claims of all the harm to bees wild and farmed being wrong
    and it isnt just bees a LOT of the beneficial pest predators are now rarely seen praying mantis which are brilliant pest killers are now a rare and notable event to see, anything much that flies or might eat a crop plant or garden one apart from millipedes! cos nothing much kills them except some supertoxic chem..or severe hunting , traps with beer or coleslw and a hard shoe! ditto earwigs breeding to plague stage all over SA and Vic i know of dunno bout elsewhere but suspect so. stink n harlequin bugs are doing well an obscure russian peach leafhopper hit crops in vic a while back
    and american- imported from floristy suppliers- gave us whitefly which spread from nsw to sa in under 12mths! would ap[ear THEY are immune to neonics.
    allowing chem onto former clean land is insane
    why not allow ONLY organic growing on those places?

  12. Last Thursday, the South Carolina District Court reinstated the Obama-era definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) in roughly half the country, furthering the ambiguity in the never-ending saga over how to define WOTUS under the Clean Water Act. South Carolina Coastal Conservation League, et. al. v. Andrew Wheeler, et. al., No. 2:18-cv-00330, at *14 (D.S.C. Aug. 16, 2018). In its decision, the court invalidated the Trump Administration’s Executive Order suspending the Obama Administration’s WOTUS rule (the “Suspension Order”).

Comments are closed.