Robert Eckart: Our EPIC Environmental Ambulance Chasers – October 5, 2010

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Note: last week, the writer related an interpretive history of environmental litigation in recent Humboldt history. – Ed.

Too dumb to vote

Fast forward to the present day, you might see that the Environmental Protection Information center (EPIC) has almost run out of rich businessmen or corporations –here – to attack on environmental grounds, so it is turning on the only other deep pockets around, which are the local towns, counties, state and federal organizations.

It appears EPIC knows that, stuck way up here in the poor part of the state, our city and county agencies don’t have the budgets to even keep current on the dense regulations that our oh-so-smart politicians in Sacramento have passed as part of their personal image building.

Specialists and scientists who can navigate these regulations with complete confidence do not even exist, since the legal interpretations are in their infancy.

So, allegedly, EPIC appears to now pick out the local governments or government agencies who, essentially, have the least liberal of politics, and sends them the equivalent of a Taliban night letter, i.e. “repent and recant – or we will beat you to death” then waits for the result.

Balancing the tactical analysis of the reported information, this behavior is understandable because, if you have beaten millions of de facto legal “protection money” out of people, organizations and government in this fashion, you would be nuts to stop. (Particularly if the fans of green justice can’t see you hiding the booty and keep rooting you on.)

If EPIC has not become anything more than a club of predatory lawyers, why then do they show so little money on their books? Documents which have been obtained through the filing of a demand under the California Public Records Act show that the yearly revenues that this alleged band of greenwashed lawyers has garnered should run into the millions.

It also appears as though not a damn penny, folks, has ever gone back into the repair of the environment of Northern California that EPIC claims to “protect” nor even fund a simple education grant.

Furthermore, this group has the audacity to show that their “fundraising events” (parties for their constituents) cost almost twice as much as they take in for donations. (Sniff, sniff… Is this the smell of pigs?)

Lately, EPIC even filed a wildly spurious lawsuit against the City of Eureka to block their right to hold a democratic vote on the usage of a contentious piece of bayside real estate.

Two things might explain this crazy gambit: first, most obviously: the bully courage of a fat, and well fed pig who has all the barnyard animals scattering and, secondly, the inexperience of a new director, such as Scott Greacen, trying to make his bones. Only a corporation interested in grandstanding – and with a lot of money to waste – would attempt such a thing.

Reportedly, this formal attempt to obstruct a democratic process is still being pursued. Whether or not it actually makes it to trial, the effect hasn’t escaped the attention of some local politicians who, with growing rapidity, have begun to pander to this band of “larger than life” lawyers.

How EPIC markets its current public ideology, namely, that the people here are not educated enough to participate in democracy, will be a curious thing to watch in the coming weeks.

Pandering politicians

All this great research into the “night letter” still did not reveal any clues of how the Fort Seward Fire Safe Council could find a way to clear some brush.

The Fort Seward Fire Safe Council, is just some simple men and women living in the hills who volunteer to try and organize, train and stick together to self protect from wildfire.

As anyone who lives in these mountains will tell you, the only thing worse than seeing the sherriff pull up into your driveway is seeing a plume of smoke rising over the next ridge. Preparation and organization are the only two things which can keep hysteria at bay. Watching carload after carload of beachgoers drive into the tall grasses in the middle of the Fort Seward community, which just happens to occur on railroad property, is like watching a child play with matches in your living room.

EPIC should be careful of what it has stepped into. EPIC cannot deny that its over-the-top vehemence toward our self-generated and honestly executed clean-up plan is nothing more than a bully tactic to stop any activity on the railroad, except what they command their local political minions to carry out.

To be honest, the legal blocking of the dialogue and development around railway usage in this country does not guarantee that the environment is better served. Rails are practically frictionless. They have the least carbon footprint of all forms of transportation. A seventh grade science student knows this.

Every day that EPIC continues to throw barriers into the path of honest discussion and redefinition of how this asset is properly held, thousands of tons of acid, in the form of CO2, is pumped from internal combustion engines mounted on inefficient rubber tired vehicles.

It is not unthinkable that EPIC actually supports pollution of the atmosphere by the reported activities of its bullies and environmental ambulance chasers.

In any case, as I presented to the board of directors of the railroad, (as well as to the Pacific Coast Joint Venture, and the Humboldt Area Foundation), whatever the usage of this asset evolves into, the weeds have got to be cut. The invasive species are blowing into areas that other grant programs have already cleared. Fires have historically broken out in Fairhaven and Eureka along these tracks in recent years.

Shall we make EPIC a sign that says “Burn Baby, Burn?”

Next week: Richardson Grove and wayward Wizard.

Robert Eckart is a Fort Seward resident.

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