Utah Native Plant Society

The posts contained herein may not always necessarily represent the official positions and views of the Utah Native Plant Society and are mine alone; nonetheless, this blog is intended to largely supplement the Utah Native Plant Society web site and has similar goals and objectives and when I think my slant about something is perhaps either controversial or straying from what might be generally supported by UNPS, I will try to so indicate since I am also the webmaster for the UNPS web site, a former UNPS board member, conservation co-chair, Utah rare plants guide coordinator, and remain actively involved with day-to-day issues involving the organization. Much of the information contained here will therefore no doubt therefore relate to issues of current concern to the UNPS board and/or its members, inquires made to unps@unps.org, postings made on the UNPS listserv, and the activities our various committees are involved with (conservation, restoration, rare plant issues, invasive species, horticulture and more) and our many and various botanical connections not the least of which are the herbariums based in Utah and elsewhere, and other conservation organizations that have goals that overlap those of UNPS.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Hatch, UTC, not clean nor green

The Utah Technology Council (UTC) bills itself as " the state’s premier professional association for over 5,000 high tech, clean tech and life science companies, representing nearly 10 percent of the state’s total payroll."  It repeats this claim in a 2015 op-ed piece by its CEO Richard Nelson,  I-Squared Act good for tech companies, Utah economy (Deseret News, May 18, 2015) which included a picture of Utah Senator Orrin Hatch.

UTC has for many years had a close association with Hatch, and he has often appeared as a speaker at UTC events.  On November 2, 2015, Sen. Hatch is now even being inducted into UTC's Hall of Fame.   And the UTC has gone so far as to include the text of an op-ed piece considerably glorifying Hatch's accomplishments that first appeared in the August 6, 2015 Tribune and which was written by an employee of doTerra (see Corporate Puppet Masters and Orrin Hatch in Utah Stories, Feb. 12, 2015).

Hatch though has repeatedly rejected any association with greenness (Orrin Hatch and environmental issues) except for when it comes to "green cards" and legislation that UTC has strongly supported but which may backfire (New H-1B bill will 'help destroy' U.S. tech workforce: Measure could accelerate offshoring of U.S. jobs, critics argue, Computerworld, Jan 14, 2015).

Associating with "clean" industries however infers being green at some level, like it or not.  Polluted air is not clean nor are polluted rivers.  Protecting the natural world involves being clean.

In fact, Hatch is being inducted under the allusion of somehow being associated with "clean industries" and as someone whose overall policies would somehow attract "clean tech workers" to Utah and living in a healthy environment.   In 2014 he even introduced a UTC Hall of Fame inductee Marc Benioff who has time and again talked about his corporate philosophy of serving a variety of stakeholders, one of which includes the environment.

Yet clearly Hatch does not share many of those same philosophies.  Hatch instead has a relatively narrow view of philanthropy and of what it means to "do the right thing."

At this very moment while being inducted into the UTC's Hall of Fame, two pending bills introduced by Hatch and co-sponsors include:

(1) Senate bill 1142 introduced April 30, 2015Native Species Protection Act - following a common trend to mislead the public by actions with agendas that are actually anti-environmental, this bill of which Hatch is one of four sponsors (including the primary sponsor, Utah Senator Mike Lee) would strip Endangered Species Act protection from any plant or animal species that solely occurs within the boundaries of a given state specifically exempting them from the Endangered Species Act and the commerce clause (article I, section 8, clause 3) of the constitution.   This shameful proposal however is contrary to the intent of the Endangered Species Act and ignores article IV, section 3, clause 4 of the constitution which gives Congress the power to make rules and regulations respecting to territory belonging to the United States.

In Hatch's op-ed dated April  20, 2012 entitled Endangered Species Act Prime Example of Federal Overreach, he outlines some of the same tired arguments (all that relate to animals and not plants yet Senate Bill 1142 makes no distinction between the two) that do not apply to plant issues but which also create the same kind of federal fear mongering that other state and federal officials have also participated in.   Senate Bill 1142 is clearly an attack primarily on the federally listed Utah Prairie Dog (Cynomys parvidens), the only mammal species that is indigenous to Utah.

The real intent here is to try to open as many areas for energy and other development as quickly as possible without Endangered Species Act considerations.   But meanwhile Utah has no laws whatsoever to protect many types of species including plants.  And the combination of these activities will denigrate our quality of life with increased air pollution, decreased water quality, and negative impacts from non-stop road building and so forth.

Many other species, especially plants, can have distributions that may be restricted to a single state that should still be afforded the proper protections under the goal of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to prevent the extinction of species.   Whether a species just happens to fall within the arbitrary geopolitical boundaries of a single state or not is irrelevant to basic biology and the application of this important law that has wide support by the general public and scientists (and not just "greens").   Further, just because a species might occur in more than one state does not mean that it then is an "article of commerce" and so the logic of the bill fails.   If however one were to apply an interstate commerce idea and link that to endangered or threatened species protection under the ESA, the argument that a federal interstate commerce connection exists is implicit in the fact that rare plant seeds or collections of all or parts of plants  (whether by private collectors or by scientists) of species solely occurring in one state inevitably have interstate commerce connections both in being transported across state lines (on federal highways or by airlines) and in being sold commercially domestically and overseas.  The same can be said of animal species.  Clearly Congress can and should regulate that commerce.

(2)Senate bill 1783 introduced July 15, 2015:  "A bill to amend the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 to clarify a provision relating to the designation of a northern transportation route in Washington County, Utah" - this bill would exempt Endangered Species Act provisions with respect to proposals to build a Northern Corridor north of the St. George area through an area already protected by a habitat conservation plan.   The amended language would stipulate that the construction of the route not be subjected to "additional restrictions or requirements from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service."   Without referring to the real issue, Hatch as the sole sponsor of the bill is attempting to subvert any requirements of the Endangered Species Act as they apply to the federally listed Desert Tortoise, Gopherus agassizii, with respect to a Northern Corridor.  Simpy put, Hatch does not want to follow the ESA,  signed into law by a Republican president just three years before Hatch's first term in office.  Instead Hatch and other Utah officials want to create their own exceptions as they see fit.

Both of these bills are being given very poor chances of success; it would appear they will not add to Hatch's legacy of "immeasurable success."

UTC (formerly UITA) has for some time now been a de facto arm of the GOP in Utah.   Its CEO sent out the following e-mail to UTC members in 2006:

From:           "Richard Nelson" <rnelson_slc@hotmail.com>            
Date sent:       Mon, 22 May 2006 15:59:22 -0600
Subject:         Hatch Fundraising Reception

In recent years I've worked closely w/ Senator Orrin Hatch and found him to  be a true champion of technology issues in our country.   Since he's had  such an important impact on our technology community, I hope you'll join me  on May 30th to thank him directly.  Many thanks!  Rich


Steve Appleton, Chairman, CEO and President of Micron Technology and the  Host Committee:

Rod Lewis, Richard Nelson, Jack Sunderlage, Will West, Dave Westergard,  Donald R. Savage, Jerry Oldroyd, Mike Bates, Joe Cannon, Jason Kreizenbeck,  Stan Lockhart, Larry Harlow, Bill Timmons Sr., John Kelliher, Makan  Delrahim, Gilbert Kaplan

cordially invite you to a fundraising reception for

The Honorable Orrin G. Hatch
United States Senator

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006
 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM

At the IM Flash Technologies headquarters
Lehi, Utah
(directions below)

The suggested minimum contribution for this event is $500.

The maximum that an individual can contribute is $2,100 per person for the general election.

Please make check payable to:  Hatch Election Committee

Please RSVP to Stan Lockhart at 801-368-2166 or lockhart@connect2.com

Contributions are not deductible for federal income tax purposes.  
Contributions by corporations and foreign nationals are prohibited. Federal law requires us to report the name, address, occupation and employer of each contributor who gives more than $200 in an election cycle to Hatch Election Committee.

Clearly this was an attempt to solicit campaign donations for Hatch's re-election.   And UTC e-mail records and other information were used to solicit those contributions.   Sending this from a private e-mail was an inexcusable stunt by Nelson to raise funds for Hatch.

Hatch raised $6.5 million dollars that year.  In the 2012 campaign he reportedly spent almost $20 per vote (see http://ballotpedia.org/Orrin_Hatch).

For now some 38 years Hatch has made a career out of politics and naturally has fought against term limits.   In running against Frank Moss who had held his prior senate seat for a mere 18 years, Hatch has more than doubled that time using the tried and true "But I can get things for Utah done because I have seniority" argument again and again, the same argument Moss could have just as easily used against him.  (Reportedly Hatch was quoted as saying “What do you call a Senator who’s served in office for 18 years? You call him home.”   In asking that question now of Hatch, i.e. "What do you call a Senator who's served for 38 years?" the answer might be, "Bought and paid for."  (See for example  Drug lobby gave $750,000 to pro-Hatch nonprofit in Utah's U.S. Senate race: Voters unaware of donation.)   At a bare minimum, Hatch's political career is based on hypocrisy.

In so closely affiliating themselves with Hatch, UTC has committed a grave disservice to Utah and to its members.   Awarding Hatch while he is still in office is a further indication of a high level of partisanship and questionable ethics.  While 501(c)(6) non-profit organizations can participate in some amount of lobbying and partisanship as long as they do not constitute a primary business activity, a "professional organization" trying to serve its members should normally greatly distance itself from most politicians and from partisanship in general.

Tech companies that join UTC should understand that they are affiliating themselves with philosophical ideologies that are very much in support of non-clean industries and then decide for themselves whether that is really in the best interest of their companies, and the health of their employees.   While Utah business promoters are touting Utah's environment as an exceptional place to live and work, our politicians are instead doing everything they can to open up as many of our lands for development as possible.

Tech workers should not be lured to Utah under false pretenses.

Individuals or companies considering relocating to Utah can still thrive without any assistance from UTC nor helping to promote some of their misdirected and ineffective agendas.   In fact, please come to Utah and help to provide a counterweight to the prevailing attitudes of certain politicians and other so-called community leaders.

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