The Democrats’ war on the west
by Michelle Malkin
“Why do they hate us?”
It’s a burning question on the minds of border-dwelling taxpayers, small business owners, farmers, and Rocky Mountain oil and gas industry workers suffering under punitive Democrat policies. Eighteen months into the Obama administration, the war on the American West is in full swing.
The first battlefront: Immigration. On Wednesday, Senate Democrats rejected a GOP amendment banning the use of federal funds to participate in any litigation against the new Arizona immigration enforcement law. “Our federal government should be doing its job to secure our borders rather than trying to bully and intimidate the people of Arizona,” argued Republican amendment sponsor Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina. “We should not be suing and really hassling the people of Arizona for doing what we should be doing here and that’s protecting the citizenry.”
All but five Senate Democrats (Indiana’s Evan Bayh took a pass and didn’t vote) sided with the anti-Arizona Obama administration – and against not only a majority of Arizonans, but a majority of Americans who support the state’s effort to restore order on the chaotic southern border and protect American workers facing double-digit unemployment. Several House Democrats have actively lobbied to boycott Arizona and crush its economy – most notably, southern Arizona’s own Democrat Rep. Raul Grijalva, who urged civic, religious, and political groups to take their convention dollars elsewhere. “Do not do business with this state,” Grijalva told open-borders zealots bent on punishing law-abiding citizens to “send a message.”
For its part, the Obama Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has targeted Maricopa County, Az., sheriff Joe Arpaio for more than a year over his strict enforcement policies against illegal alien criminals. The hell-bent Civil Rights Division is helmed by veteran illegal immigration advocate Thomas Perez, who has lobbied for driver’s licenses, in-state tuition discounts, and blanket amnesty for millions of border-jumpers, visa overstayers, and deportation fugitives.
Arizona’s neighbor to the north, Utah, is under fire by a different set of left-wing bureaucrats. When Interior Secretary Ken Salazar isn’t busy destroying jobs through his radical offshore drilling moratorium, he’s been blocking onshore development and wreaking havoc on the Beehive State’s energy industry. Last week, Salazar defended pulling 77 oil lease contracts granted in the final days of the Bush administration. Salazar’s inspector general concluded that there was no evidence of any rush to auction off the parcels– as baselessly claimed by environmental groups and Salazar himself. In fact, the leases were granted only after seven full years of rigorous study and debate.
That makes two Salazar job-destroying bans based off bogus eco-claims. (Remember: Loathsome cowboy Salazar was behind the shameless doctoring of a scientific report to bolster the Obama administration’s devastating offshore drilling ban.) Uintah County, Ut., officials have sued the Interior Department over the rescinded leases, which have cost the state untold millions of dollars and countless jobs in a tough economy. Not to mention the court expenses, legal morass, and regulatory uncertainty.
Other Western states are reeling as a result of the Democrats’ eco-radicalism – and the rest of America is paying a high price, too. Salazar was a leading opponent of oil shale development when he served in the U.S. Senate for Colorado. There are an estimated 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil shale in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming alone – enough to potentially free us from Saudi oil dependence. Yet as Obama’s Interior Secretary, Salazar has wielded his power to halt plans to lease oil shale rights in the West. In addition, Obama’s Bureau of Land Management is dragging its feet on more than $100 million in unissued oil and gas leases in Wyoming. These resources remain untapped thanks to militant greenies who pay lip service to energy independence while blocking all practical means of achieving it.
At a partisan rally on Monday to crusade for endless unemployment insurance benefits extensions, President Obama lectured Republicans to “Stop holding workers hostage to politics.”
Speak for yourself, pal.