I disagree with Rep. Paul Gosar’s accusation that protecting America’s public lands from the onslaught of oil and gas drilling is “extremist environmentalism.” On the contrary, a strong majority of Americans supports protection of parks, wilderness and monuments -according to numerous recent polls both nationally and here in the West.
It would seem Rep. Gosar is the one with the extremist point of view-in lock step with Washington cronies who want to lock up our public lands for coal, oil and gas extraction, rather than enable Americans to hand these irreplaceable lands down to our children and grandchildren.
Arizona, in particular, is blessed with a diverse array of beautiful forests, wilderness areas, desert lands, and even some perennial flowing rivers like the Verde. People come from all over the world to hike, hunt, camp and bird watch on Arizona’s public lands-to the annual tune of $10.6 billion in consumer spending, another $3.3 billion in wages and salaries for tourism-supported industries, $787 million in state and local tax revenue, and approximately 103,700 homegrown Arizona jobs.
These lands exist and are paying forward into Arizona coffers because of past leaders we sent to Congress who knew how to work across the aisle and find balance when it came to protecting Arizona’s best interests, not special interests.
Referring to President Obama protecting sensitive Alaskan lands from oil drilling, Rep. Gosar claims he will “strongly oppose this misguided effort that will harm future generations.” I hope he will reconsider. If anything, it is future generations that will suffer if we lose more public lands to development and extractive uses. Rep. Gosar needs to do more to echo the desires of the people in his district rather than the needs of the fossil fuel industry.
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