As George W. Bush desperately tries to rewrite history in an effort to secure a positive legacy for himself, we see more and more pronouncements from government insiders and political appointees declaring the great “successes” of the last eight years.
On January 1, The Washington Post reported on a recent effort by the Department of the Interior to spin the facts to the Bush administration’s favor:
As President Bush’s tenure comes to a close, independent experts and administration insiders are delivering their assessments of his government’s performance over the past eight years. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne has posted his own verdict on his department’s Web site, and the upshot is that he did great.
It would take a lot more than this one blog post to sum up the damage that the Bush administration has done to conservation efforts in the last eight years, so I won’t even try. But Evan Hirsche, president of the National Wildlife Refuge Association, responded for the Refuge System in the Post article:
One of the accomplishments the list cites — the creation of 15 national wildlife refuges — did not sit well with Evan Hirsche, president of the National Wildlife Refuge Association. Hirsche noted that the refuge system has had to cut 300 jobs because of budget constraints, since the $434 million that refuges receive each year from the federal government falls at least $330 million short of what they need to operate.
“This has been eight years of lost opportunity in terms of acquiring sensitive habitat and creating new national wildlife refuges. The need has never been greater, yet land acquisition coffers have been starved and willing sellers turned away because of bureaucratic red tape,” Hirsche said. “New refuges conserve wildlife, bolster property values and result in economic gains for communities. It’s hard to understand why this administration has neglected such a winning proposition.”
No one can quantify the damage that the Bush administration has done by ignoring global warming and undercutting endangered species protection at every turn during the last eight years. Nor can we know with certainty if Western lands will ever recover from the massive energy raid that was stoked by the Bush administration — even when government scientists told them that not enough was being done to protect public lands.
And we’ll never truly know how much valuable wildlife habitat was lost forever nor will we ever be able to quantify the damage inflicted by the massive job cuts and subsequent loss of experienced, dedicated personnel within the Refuge System.
We can only say thank goodness this period in America is almost over.