Idaho is famous for its contrasts.
Rivers rush through parched deserts. Lakes
that look like little more than storm puddles teem with fish. Itís most famous
ski resort rises out of the sage plains like a mirage before the eyes of
Perhaps itís the contradictionsóthat what
you see is not necessarily what you get in Idaho--that inspired the Bush
Administration to consider Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne to head up the
Environmental Protection Agency.
To any outsider, it would seem Idahoís
governor ought to be mightily concerned about environmental protection.
The stateís tourism sector is an economic
powerhouse, continuing to grow while other sectors are shrinking.
A study released in the spring by the
Outdoor Industry Foundationís Business for Wilderness program ranked Idaho
residents first in the nation in participation in outdoor pursuits. A whopping
86.8 percent of Idaho residents participate in outdoor activities, including
backpacking, climbing, fly fishing and hiking.
These residents elected Kempthorne.
It would seem safe to assume that the
governor would have more than a passing interest in protecting the outdoors and
its inhabitants that Idahoans clearly love. The assumption would be wrong.
Kempthorne listed as one of his
qualifications for the job his creation of the "cabinet level" Office of Species
Conservation, a mark of his concern for the outdoors.
The species conservation office is no such
thing. The office was created to muzzle Idaho Department of Fish and Game
biologists on the issue of salmon recovery.
At the same time he muzzled the
"scientists," the governor repeatedly called for "sound science, not sound
bites" in discussions of salmon recovery. Instead, all the state got was sound
The Office of Species Conservation was
also created to keep the issue of wolf reintroduction in a political box instead
of a biological one. That could come in handy in an agency the Bush
Administration seems to want to render impotent.
This governor also packed the Idaho Fish
and Commission with appointees whose priorities involve industrialization, not
All things considered, Kempthorne would be
the perfect candidate to lead the Bush Administrationís EPA.