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The Humane Society’s inhumanity … and tunnel vision

March 3rd, 2010 · 2 Comments

This evening the Humane Society will be honoring Members of Congress as Humane Federal Legislators of 2009. Top rank:

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., for his leadership on the
Restore Our American Mustangs (ROAM) Act to overhaul the Interior Department’s management of wild horses on public lands and restore the prohibition on the commercial sale and slaughter of wild horses and burros; and for skillfully guiding 11 wildlife protection measures successfully through that Committee and to approval by the full House.

“Chairman Rahall has done a remarkable job leading the House to pass an extraordinary breadth of important wildlife measures, as well as personally championing the cause of wild horses on public lands,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “He has made the House Natural Resources Committee a real force for good on behalf of animals, and we are so grateful for his compassion, tenacity and skillful legislative work.”

With this announcement, it is hard to exaggerate the extent to which the Humane Society’s leadership is wearing blinders in a tunnel-visioned focus on a very narrow definition of their charter, without looking to a broader definition of what humane human interaction with other species should entail. While Rahall might have been a superstar when it comes to the ROAM Act, he has been an even greater superstar in defense of the coal-mining industry in its reckless endangerment not just of humanity’s future, but literally the survival of untold numbers of other species.

And, even more directly, Representative Rahall has worn a coal-dust dirtied badge of honor in defense of the ugliest form of coal extraction: mountain-top removal. Rahall recently bragged about his role is stalling (killing) the move forward with legislation action to end MTR:

Some 200 members of the House proposed legislation to abolish the method, but it went to the Roads and Transportation Committee, where Rahall is vice chairman.

“I blocked it,” he said. “I kept it from even having a hearing on it. It would have passed Congress overwhelmingly. It was a freebie. Republicans would have voted to end mountaintop removal.”

As described by Bob Kincaid, a broadcaster and activist in the Coal River Valley area of West Virginia:

“The Humane Society couldn’t have consulted with anyone working to save the fauna of southern Appalachia. It’s impossible to think of Representative Rahall as a “humane legislator” in light of the thousands and thousands of wild animals he’s condemned to death or dislocation via his slavish dedication to perpetuating Mountaintop Removal.

Mountaintop Removal has destroyed over five hundred Appalachian mountains and buried over a thousand miles of streams in one of the most biodiverse regions of the entire planet. Those mountains Rep. Rahall has helped kill were home to deer, bears, bobcats, squirrels, raccoons, possums, foxes, rabbits, hawks, owls, snakes, lizards, songbirds, fish, frogs and sundry other living things for which Congressman Rahall shows openly hostile disdain. His disregard for West Virginia’s wildlife population is further manifested in the fact that he actively opposes real science that has proven beyond question that the ecological harm done by Mountaintop Removal is irreversible over a span of time measured in tens of thousands of years.

The Humane Society has a motto: “Great and Small: We stand by all amimals.” They make a mockery of this by giving an award to awarding someone so integral to enabling the incredibly destructive practice of mountain-top removal to continue unabated, even in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence as to MTR’s destructiveness. Simply put, the Humane Society is wearing blinders when it comes to its thinking about and definition of what matters in terms of humanity’s treatment of other creatures on earth.

Even more broadly, the Humane Society has made made statements about the importance of action on climate change / global warming. Giving a top award to a legislator who voted against action on climate change and who works so hard to protect (and even expand) coal use makes a mockery of these statements.

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Tags: catastrophic climate change · climate change · coal · energy efficiency · environmental · Global Warming · global warming deniers · government energy policy

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Wonk Room » The WonkLine: March 4, 2010 // Mar 4, 2010 at 9:01 am

    […] activists are appalled that the U.S. Humane Society has announced that it will give its “2009 Humane Legislator of […]

  • 2 Marqman // Mar 9, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    By banning the commercial sale and slaughter of wild horses and burros from public land Congressman Rahall has doomed these animals to starvation and disease due to the lack of natural predators and limited food supply in the public lands. Another example of the adverse impact of “feel good” legislation that is implemented without knowledge or intellect.