Let Alaskans Decide The Fate of Alaska's Forests
Mother Jones today reports on how the Trump administration is loosening some restrictions on logging in some public-lands areas of Alaska.
In response, a group of indigenous women traveled to Washington to oppose the plan.
Most of the article goes into how the forests — left untouched — are good for local residents, and how the forests are allegedly a defense against global warming.
But it was a phrase in the headline that struck me most: "These Native Women Traveled 3,000 Miles to Stop It."
That is, a group of people from the Alaska panhandle, in order to talk policy about a forest right next door, had to fly thousands of miles to do so.
That strikes me as a bit odd.
I was reminded of the outcry from non-Alaskans when the Feds proposed renaming the state's highest mountain, now called Denali. Back in 2015, I wrote:
Here's the basic story: About 100 years ago, some people started calling Denali mountain in Alaska "Mount McKinley." Eventually they managed to convince the federal government to make "McKinley" the official name. In 1975, however, the government of Alaska petitioned the federal government to change the name back to "Denali." To this day, Alaskans routinely refer to the mountain as "Denali" in spite of the fact that the Federal government, seated 4,000 miles away in Washington, DC, had not respected their request. Then, during a recent trip to Alaska, Barack Obama decided that the federal bureaucracy is going to start using the name "Denali" for the mountain.
Reading this, the whole thing should strike any sane person as immediately absurd. Why do people in Alaska have to ask a bunch of non-Alaskans thousands of miles away to call their name by the locally preferred name? If the Alaskan government, not to mention most of the locals, call a mountain "Denali," then the mountain is obviously named "Denali."
But that's not how it works in the land of the free. Here in America, apparently, people from Ohio (McKinley's home state), 3,000 miles from the mountain in question, get to veto Alaskan petitions. In this article in the Washington Post, a writer from Ohio makes the case (with a straight face, no less) that it's mean and nasty of the federal government to defer to the Alaskans about the names of Alaskan mountains. For the Ohioans, it seems, it is of monumental importance that the United States Congress, composed of 533 non-Alaskans, and three actual Alaskans, decide what that mountain should be called.
This latest controversy over an Alaskan forest just highlights the absurdity of federal control of federal lands yet again. But while Mother Jones highlights the fact Alakans had to travel across a continent to address issues going on 50 miles away, the publication nonetheless considers this to be perfectly right and normal.
This, of course, is to be expected from those with a progressive mindset. For them, policy should be decided by "experts" perhaps 3,000 miles away who ought to control every aspect of life for people who have far less power and far less ability to affect policy than the experts in the metropolitan centers of power.
If this group of Alaskans fails to win the day, then that's just a sign that maybe some California billionaires should get involved bossing Alaskans around from a different ideological perspective.
The idea that It's the same attitude, of course, that we encountered in response to the Brazilian forest fires in recent months. Wealthy, powerful first-world politicians united to boss around impoverished Brazilians and tell them how to run their country. After all, we were told the Brazilian forests aren't really Brazilian anyway. They belong to everyone else because they are "the lungs of the world." Therefore, in their minds, the Frenchman Emmanuel Macron ought to be dictating to the Brazilians on the matter.
The same thinking rules the day in Washington, DC, including among Republicans who have no intent of relinquishing control over federal lands they now enjoy. For instance, when questioned about his willingness to decentralize control of federal lands to the states, Trump appointee Perry Pendley of the Bureau of Land Management called the idea "silly" and "illogical" even though he has admitted that the authors of the US constitution never envisioned the sort of vast federal land holdings that are now common in the US.
If there's anything DC politicians can agree on, it's that Washington, DC should have the final say over everything everywhere. This, of course, even extends to foreign countries.
For them, the idea of leaving Alaska to the Alaskans remains simply a bridge too far.