Monday, December 29, 2008

Cabrera vs Gourley

Ike Cabrera and John Gourley were both interviewed on Australian NPR (they call it ABC - Australian Broadcasting Corporation) in regards to the proposed Mariana Trench Marine National Monument.  From ABC:
A coalition of indigenous people in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas have asked US President George W Bush to extend the area being considered for a marine monument. It comes after reports the White House was considering scaling back the area under consideration. The Friends of the Monument Group say they need the monument to protect as much of the Mariana Trench as possible.
I was confused as to why the reporter called the Friends of the Monument a "lobby group" and John Gourley a "environmental consultant and biologist." What's with the double standard?  I was also a little confused by the explanation for our politicians' opposition to the monument.  She said that they aren't opposed to preservation, they are just opposed to restricting commercial fishing and mining.  Ponder that one for a few minutes.

I thought both interviews were interesting. Both men used the original arguments for and against the monument. After over a year of back and forth, it comes back to a few basic arguments.  Ike argues that the waters are a "natural treasure" and an "important part of our heritage" and should be protected while Gourley argues that (1) the Antiquities Act of 1906 does not require public input, (2) can only be overturned by Congress and (3) would "slam the door" on future development.

Naturally I agree with what Ike had to say. To Gourley I would say that there has already been plenty of public input, with over 150 letters to the editor, hundreds of emails and letters written to the President, and thousands of signatures on petitions, both for and against. There was a two month public comment period and a public comment open house in which over 400 local, mostly indigenous residents attended. No other issue comes to mind that has engaged so many people in recent years. How much more public input could there have been?

I would also say that this is permanent in as much as it sets up a permanent framework for conservation. The nuts and bolts will be worked on and argued over for the next 100 years. I would also amend his final argument to say that this only "slams the door" on future extraction and environmental destruction, not future development. There are plenty of sustainable activities that can take place within the monument borders.

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