Enviros Want Feds To Give Hundreds Of Millions To Farmers To Solve Droughts

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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During a conference call Thursday, a slew of conservationists called on President Barack Obama to infuse a $321 million taxpayer subsidy into environmental programs — all for the purpose of warding off the specter of droughts supposedly brought on by man-made global warming.

“Habitats are dying and birds are disappearing” because of global warming, Brian Moore, a legislative director at the conservation group National Audubon Society, said during the conference, prompting Moore to plea for Obama to focus more on keeping water flowing and droughts at bay.

David Hayes, a senior fellow at the progressive think tank Center for American Progress, and a slew of conservationists joining Moore told reporters that while they agreed with Obama’s decision to place global warming on the front stage at the SOTU, they want him to do more.

“We think that President Obama nailed it on climate change during his State of The Union address,” Moore said, adding, “but he needs to do more because climate change is a danger to us all.”

Obama can handle the droughts in the West and climate change, Moore continued, if he pushes to reinstate the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), a massive $321 million subsidy farmers used to supplement the costs of making farmlands more efficient and environmentally friendly. Congress cut the program from the 2016 FY spending bill.

“We would like that money to be put back on the table,” Moore added.

The participants on the call used the conference to highlight the results of a poll by conservationist group State of The Rockies Project. The poll conducted 2,800 interviews with 400 registered voters in seven Western states, excluding California. The poll’s sampling error for each state was 4.9 percent, with an overall sampling error of 2.7 percent.

While the group did not explain why it excluded the Golden State from its poll, it did mention the results of previous polls conducted last year showing drought angst growing in California.

The Field Poll, a public opinion news service, conducted a poll in October showing 76 percent of Californians now consider the drought conditions a serious threat, a slight uptick above the 66 percent of people who felt the same way earlier in the year.

According to one of the conference’s participants, FM3 pollster Dave Metz, the State of The Rockies Project found that 83 percent of those polled believed droughts in the West were a serious problem. The poll also found 84 percent of the participants support the federal government dumping cash into conservation programs to stave off droughts.

Along with questions about droughts, the poll also looked at how participants felt about government controlled land – namely, those polled were asked whether they wanted to privatize federal land or give it back to the states. According to the survey, 58 percent of those asked opposed privatizing federally controlled land.

Adding context to The Sate of The Rockies poll, the group posted a press statement on its website stating it published the survey to quite “anti-public lands rhetoric from militant extremists.”

The statement, of course, was in reference to militia members hold up in a national wildlife facility in Oregon, protesting a federal court’s decision earlier this month to extend the prison sentences of Dwight and Steve Hammond, two ranchers found guilty of setting fire to federal land.

Conservationists consider the group militaristic and anti-federal government for wanting the federal government to give land back to the states.

“Charges of government overreach from the ideological fringes are making headlines, but in reality most Westerners in this poll favor greater protection and sensible use of the open lands and national treasures that define the region,” Eric Perramond, a professor in Colorado College’s environmental program, and the Faculty Director of the State of the Rockies Project, noted in the press statement.

Some economists say that the privatizing, or at least giving federally controlled land to the states could help the conservationist plight.

“Increasing federal control over America’s lands is misguided for both economic and environmental reasons,” Chris Edwards, director of tax policy studies at the Cato Institute, told The Daily Caller News Foundation last week.

Edwards went on to call the federal government a poor landlord, and suggested, “only local citizens and state actors can solve” land issues between ranchers on one hand and conservationists on the other.

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