Ill winds blow no good from the GOP convention

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A few months ago, I sent a small contribution to the Romney campaign and enclosed a note, “I’d consider sending more if Gov. Romney would display a modicum of concern about the environmental problems confronting our nation, and indeed, our planet.” He has not, and I have not responded to any of the dozens of letters I have received soliciting support for his campaign. In his acceptance speech at the GOP convention, he belittled Pres. Obama for promising “to slow the rise of the oceans…and to heal the planet.” The Democrats will make hay out of that uncalled-for remark.

Senator Rand Paul delivered a speech that could have been written by Rush Limbaugh. He criticized the administration for blocking the proposed northern segment of the Keystone Pipeline, saying the action “punished the welders.” SLAP! Take that you stupid Midwestern environmental wackos! Then, transmogrified Artur Davis took a page from the speech Romney was scheduled to make and disparaged Obama for promising to slow the sea-level rise and heal the planet. Conservationists smelled an ill wind blowing from Tampa during the GOP convention and pinched their noses.

Another mistake the Republicans made was inviting neocon war hawk Sen. John McCain to speak. McCain advocates the United States becoming the world’s policeman, when we are sacrificing thousands of our troops’ lives and wasting billions of borrowed dollars in an unwinnable war in Afghanistan. Where to next, Sen. McCain? Syria, Darfur, Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Angola, Somalia, Kenya, Senegal, Rwanda, or all of those listed? Altogether, 59 countries are experiencing violent civil unrest, with warring factions totaling 355 fighting each other. Thank goodness Sen. McCain wasn’t elected to the presidency four years ago.

Virtually all the Republican leaders claim that business is over-regulated, and that many existing regulations should be done away with. I wish they would provide a list of the regulations they believe are unwarranted or detrimental to business. I can think of quite a few myself, but regulations to protect and improve the environment and to ensure workplace safety are necessary and should be retained.

One regulation dealing with wetland protection and stream pollution is being debated, and the debate continues unabated. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Clean Water Act does not require that “isolated wetlands” and ephemeral streams receive protection, and that the act provides protection only for navigable waterways and water bodies directly connected to them. Conservationists are of one opinion on this issue, and are urging Congress to clarify the law to ensure that isolated wetlands and ephemeral streams are protected. The isolated wetlands provide essential breeding habitats for many wildlife species and are important for groundwater and aquifer recharge. Ephemeral, or temporary, streams, when flowing, connect to permanent streams and any pollutants they carry contaminate the latter. To deny these streams and wetlands the protection they deserve makes no sense whatsoever.

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Plaquemines Parish is a narrow spit of land extending into the Gulf of Mexico southeast of New Orleans. The Mississippi River flows through the middle of the parish. When the river floods or when hurricanes or tropical storms make landfall on the central Gulf coast, most residents of Plaquemines Parish are forced to evacuate and head for higher ground. A resident of New Orleans had this to say. “I feel sorry for the residents of Plaquemines Parish. Every time someone up here pees in the river, they have to evacuate.”

I am tempted to write a letter to the editor of a newspaper that the residents of the parish regularly read. It would say, “To the residents of Plaquemines Parish, I have a suggestion. If you are growing weary of continually watching the weather channel and frequently evacuating your homes, pack up your belongings and move to western Lee County Alabama, where I live. It never floods here, and it seldom rains. There’s a lot of rural property for sale here, and we resident rednecks up here probably have a lot in common with you coon-asses. Y’all come.”

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Medical wastes and dead sewer rats have washed along miles of northeastern beaches leaving them deserted, according to media reports. And in Hancock County, Mississippi, upwards of 15,000 dead nutria, a.k.a. swamp rats, are creating a big stink on the county’s beaches. Need a job? Contact the county’s Emergency Management Agency. It’s hiring dead nutria picker-uppers to assist the overworked buzzards and seagulls. Applicants are required to have strong stomachs.

Bob Mount is a Professor Emeritus with the Dept of Zoology and Entomology, Auburn Univ. He is also chairman of the Opelika Order of Geezers, well-known local think tank and political clearing house. He writes about birds, snakes, turtles, bugs and assorted conservation topics.

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