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Somehow, the "rights" of endangered insects and weeds have become more important in the minds of our cultural elites than the rights of American workers.

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Conservative Spotlight: Partnership for the West

Somehow, the “rights” of endangered insects and weeds have become more important in the minds of our cultural elites than the rights of American workers.

Somehow, the “rights” of endangered insects and weeds have become more important in the minds of our cultural elites than the rights and livelihoods of American workers and property owners, not to mention the rational use of natural resources for the long-term economic health of the country. The Endangered Species Act and other extreme environmentalist measures have been putting the squeeze on property owners and business for decades, particularly in the Western states-far from the big metropolitan areas in which most of our cultural elites live free from worry that they could be displaced by rodents with more civil rights than American citizens.

The new Partnership for the West has been formed to try to halt this erosion of Western Americans’ property rights and prosperity, and is an umbrella group for industry and activists working to hold back the Green Tide. “Already, it has linked leaders from an extraordinarily wide range of Western interests,” boasts the non-profit 501(c)4 group, “including: farm/ranching, coal, financial services, hard rock mining, timber/wood products, small businesses, utilities, oil & gas, construction, renewable energy advocates, manufacturers, property rights advocates, higher education, recreational access proponents, county government advocates, local, state and federal elected officials, grassroots groups and many others.” Partnership for the West’s members range from the American Gas Association, Coldwell Banker Commercial, the Colorado Farm Bureau, and the Western Mining Council to the American Land Rights Association, Citizens Advocating Local Control of Our Forests, and the Warrior’s Society Mountain Bike Club.

The partnership is the brainchild of Jim Sims, its executive director and former communications director for President Bush’s National Energy Policy Development Group. Sims is also former chief of staff for ex-Sen. Bob Kasten (R.-Wis.) and current president of Policy Communications, a PR/lobbying firm in Golden, Colo.

“The left has a very large, very effective, very well-funded network with lots of grassroots that amplify their strength beyond their numbers,” said Sims. “They portray economic growth as harming the environment. It’s a false choice. You can have both.”

The partnership will take a moderate approach to promoting economic growth and multiple uses for public lands while preserving America’s environmental quality, said Sims, who noted that things are getting better, not worse. “We have the cleanest air and water in 50 years,” he said. Even strip mining no longer permanently destroys the environment, he said. “The law says that when they’re done, they have to restore the land,” he said-and companies do. “It looks great,” said Sims.

“Public lands in the West belong to all Americans,” says the partnership. “We believe these lands should be accessible for sustainable uses and environmentally sound development for the benefit of all Americans. The West needs and deserves good-paying jobs created by sustainable and environmentally sound development. We support public policies that encourage job-creating development, opportunity and prosperity for all. Consumers in the West and throughout America deserve access to affordable and reliable supplies of the goods, materials and services that help sustain our quality of life.”

Said Sims about the Bush Administration’s attempt to open up a small part of Alaskan frozen tundra to oil drilling, “It was evident that the ANWR [Arctic National Wildlife Refuge] debate was going to dramatically energize the radical environmentalists, and it has proved true. They have increased their numbers and their fundraising. And it was clear they were going to segue into the Rocky Mountain area and try to shut down development.”

The Partnership for the West does not want only big-money companies and well-trained PR men to argue its case. One of its goals is “building an extensive database of grassroots supporters in the West that can be activated to help influence specific legislative and regulatory decisions at the county, state and federal levels,” says the group’s website. Said Sen. Wayne Allard (R.-Colo.) in a quotation reproduced on the website, “What we need more than anything is a group of articulate grassroots folks from the West who are willing to work to have their voices heard in Washington. I’m excited because there are important issues and it’s vital that the people of the West have a strong voice.”

Average Americans without farms, ranches or jobs in heavy industry need to understand how environmentalism affects them, too, said Sims. For example, “most people out here in the West don’t realize that natural gas prices are going up because of environmentalism,” he said. Such things also call into question the left’s supposed love for the poor. “The people most hurt by price increases are lower-income people,” Sims pointed out.

The partnership may be reached at 350 Indiana St., Suite 230, Golden, Colo. 80401 (303-278-4666; fax: 720-554-7976; e-mail: info@partnershipforthewest.org; website: www.partnershipforthewest.org).

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Written By

Mr. D'Agostino, former associate editor of HUMAN EVENTS, is vice president for Communications at the Population Research Institute.

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