Teachers are using students, from kindergarten through college, as foot soldiers in environmental campaigns, whether they should be in class or not.
Steve Chase of the Antioch New England Graduate School, for example, led some of his lucky students on an “Environment Justice in the Mississippi Delta” junket last spring. Chase described it as a “10-day field studies trip to Louisiana’s Cancer Alley—the 90-mile strip of the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans that houses more than 150 oil refineries and petrochemical plants.”
As it happens, while taking a break from writing this column, I was asked to “oppose the administration’s Unhealthy Skies bill” by a theater arts major from St. Mary’s College. “Do you want to stop mercury?” this nice girl asked me, without bothering to tell me how I would take my temperature without it. This young lady was spending her summer working for Environmental Action (EA), which, perhaps not too surprisingly, is based in Boston.
“We folded in the 90s because we thought we were safe under Clinton,” she explained. “But now we’re back under Bush.”
At least second graders in Connecticut did not have to travel very far to demonstrate their concern for the environment. “Most second graders spent the last school year struggling with multiplication tables and spelling tests,” John J. Miller wrote in National Review. “One special group from Connecticut, however, apparently conducted an analysis of corporate lending practices in developing countries.”
“For on December 16, 2004, they took a field trip to Manhattan, where they picketed the offices of J. P. Morgan Chase & Co. for loan policies that supposedly contribute to rainforest destruction and global warming.” This might be a rare occasion in which the very young serve as pawns to achieve the ecodreams of older activists but it is probably not the first time that students have been used as pawns of environmental activists when they should be in class. Ironically, also in New York State, the free market group Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow is going to court to achieve the same status on campus that university administrators confer on Ralph Nader’s Public Interest Research Group.
Meanwhile, a look at the actual Endangered Species List (ESL) that the federal government keeps will show you that an extraordinary number of bugs and other such creatures that appear on the roster have their federally protected habitats near college towns. The ESL was created to implement the Endangered Species Act (ESA) signed by President Richard Nixon. To put an animal or plant on the ESL requires only a petition. Many high school and college students routinely sign such petitions.
Once the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) puts an animal, plant or insect on the ESL, nothing can happen in the geographic region that the FWS determines to be the critters’ habitat, without perpetrator, be he or she a construction company owner or employee, rancher or housewife, facing stiff federal fines.
So how effective is the ESL in actually protecting endangered species?
“The FWS claims the rydberg milk-vetch, a species of plant, recovered despite the fact that the agency’s own experts admit the species was too abundant to merit protection,” according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “The American alligator was also too abundant to merit protection, but was listed by the FWS to use this species to help facilitate passage of the ESA.”
“The gray whale was protected from hunting by the switch from whale oil to kerosene lamps in the early 1900s and by international treaties dating back to 1937 and 1946, not the ESA.” The Competitive Enterprise Institute is a think tank based in Washington, D. C. that was started by a former senior policy analyst at the Environmental Protection Agency.
Malcolm A. Kline is the executive director of Accuracy in Academia.