Quote

People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Third-World Status, By Governmental Decree

Take a ride north on U.S. 220 out of Salem, Virginia toward Iron Gate and Covington and, about half way there, you'll come upon the small town of Eagle Rock. Residents there have the great good fortune of being situated along a beautiful stretch of the historic James River, and of being only minutes away from the Jefferson National Forest, a genuine national treasure. If that's not reason enough to want to retire there, the mountain views - in nearly every direction - are breathtaking.

If there are many upsides to living in Eagle Rock, however, there is also one downside. It is rural Virginia.

Okay, two downsides. It is comprised in large measure of people who live at or near the poverty line.

Well, three. Eagle Rock has no say when it comes to decisions made in Richmond. No clout. No one fighting for its well-being.

Thus it is that when a wetland has to be bulldozed over in Henrico County, 172 miles away, near some tributary of the James River, to create luxury condos for the rich folks moving into the area, a farm field has to be bulldozed and turned into a swamp across the state in tiny Eagle Rock.

Your reaction is one of disbelief? You say that's not possible? See for yourself.



This is a view looking east from the highway. Just this side of the treeline in the distance meanders the James River. Between there and the hay field in the foreground is a lush, healthy, productive cornfield. It's that cornfield that has been purchased by the Virginia Department of Transportation - for $3,000,000 - and is to be plowed under and turned into a swamp.

Here's a closer look:


The yellow CAUTION tape along the fenceline is intended to keep the public out. The same public that purchased the cornfield/swamp. For $3 million.

To understand how a cash-strapped VDOT felt compelled to purchase a cornfield in mountainous and sparsely populated western Virginia, with the intention of taking it out of production forever and turning it over to the snakes and mosquitoes, one needs to understand the incomprehensible, nearly.

It has to do with the United States government, naturally, in the form(s) of the U.S. Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency, and with Congress, naturally, and The Clean Water Act, Section 404(b)(1). With acronyms like NNL, or No Net Loss. With arcane terms like wetland credits and wetland mitigation banks. With environmental impact studies and compensatory mitigation.

What it all boils down to is this: A cornfield in tiny, backward, poverty-stricken Eagle Rock, Virginia is being converted into a swamp, a swamp, allowing VDOT 36 acres of "wetlands credits" so that a rich developer in Powhatan can add to the sprawl in the state's capital. They dig a hole here so as to be able to fill one in there.

There is nothing more shameful, more disgraceful than this. Are the citizens of Eagle Rock not Virginians too?

It's no different than had the state government decided to make Eagle Rock Richmond's garbage landfill.

Wealthy Virginia's feculent backwater cesspool.

A toxic dumping ground.

It would be one thing if the state mandated that a developer, should he decide to rework a wetland area in order to construct a housing complex, secure land nearby for the purpose of "offset." But the law reads such that a developer, or a state agency like VDOT, gains credits if the land set aside is "in the same watershed." Thus, a piece of property in Botetourt County in far western reaches of the commonwealth can be forever turned into a swamp as an offset for a construction project down the James River, all the way across the state of Virginia, in some of the most affluent neighborhoods in the country.

To add insult to injury, U.S. 220 is still dangerous. It's been recognized for years as being dangerous. It will remain a hazard to area residents for many years to come. While VDOT brings in earthmoving equipment to destroy that cornfield, the highway nearby will continue to take lives. And nothing will be done about it.

Why?

VDOT is broke.

For the love of God.

***

To learn more on this subject, go to the following:

A Matter Of Perspective

It strikes me as at least odd that people over in Henrico County get worked up over those unsightly - ghastly - cell towers, one of which is proposed for a local park there, but will also, in the next breath, extol the virtues of this:

Personally, I kinda like those magestic towers rising up from the temporal, the mundane, the worldly, into the sublime ...

Photo courtesy of Todd Waldo.


But Isn't He Still Destroying The Planet?

This will never make sense to me:
Roads to '08 leaving footprint
By Stephen Dinan, The Washington Times


Former Sen. John Edwards' 2008 presidential campaign has paid nearly $22,000 to offset its global-warming emissions this year, including more than $5,000 a month from April through June, making him the candidate with the largest acknowledged output of greenhouse gases.


Presidential campaigns, it turns out, are a dirty business, environmentally speaking — and for the first time, the campaigns' Federal Election Commission reports are providing a glimpse of just how dirty they are when it comes to greenhouse-gas emissions. (link)
So Pretty Boy thinks he can assuage his eco-guilt by buying eco-offsets.

Question: Should we consider a murderer innocent if he fathers a child?

Send 'em Back. With a Warning.

Britain wants 'em. Let's send 'em:
Britain Seeks Release of 5 From Guantánamo
By The Associated Press

London (AP) -- Britain has asked the United States to release five British residents from the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Foreign Office said Tuesday.


Foreign Secretary David Miliband has written to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asking that the men be freed. The men are not British nationals, but had lived in the U.K. before they were detained.

The Foreign Office said there may be security considerations when the men are returned to Britain. The government will "continue to take all necessary measures to maintain national security," the statement said. (link)
I think we should accommodate the Foreign Secretary. And accompany that accommodation with a warning. These terrorists wreak havoc on Americans, ever, and we come over there and drag his skinny ass to Guantanamo.

Seems like a fair accommodation to me.

I'm Not One To Find Fault With This

Personally? I think this is to be celebrated:
Universities Install Footbaths to Benefit Muslims, and Not Everyone Is Pleased
By Tamar Lewin, The New York Times


Dearborn, Mich. — When pools of water began accumulating on the floor in some restrooms at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and the sinks pulling away from the walls, the problem was easy to pinpoint. On this campus, more than 10 percent of the students are Muslims, and as part of ritual ablutions required before their five-times-a-day prayers, some were washing their feet in the sinks.

The solution seemed straightforward. After discussions with the Muslim Students’ Association, the university announced that it would install $25,000 foot-washing stations in several restrooms.

But as a legal and political matter, that solution has not been quite so simple. When word of the plan got out this spring, it created instant controversy, with bloggers going on about the Islamification of the university, students divided on the use of their building-maintenance fees, and tricky legal questions about whether the plan is a legitimate accommodation of students’ right to practice their religion — or unconstitutional government support for that religion. (link)
I've always believed that it was never intended that our government be free from religion. I also believe it to be the responsibility of our government to promote all religions. We are strong enough to handle that. And we will be a better people for it.

Having said that, it is now up to these same university administrators to create conditions such that Christians are provided an equally welcome experience on campus. As opposed to the stunt that was pulled at the College of William & Mary last winter,and the like.

We are a diverse people with diverse views, on this world and others. Let's celebrate our right to have, to hold, and to display all those views. Together.

Support For War Comes Back Around

Now that progress is being made, measurable progress, the battle for Iraq is regaining support here in this country. This news is not going to please Murtha, Pelosi, and their ilk:
Latest poll shows growing support for Iraq war policy
USA TODAY

USA TODAY's Susan Page reports that President Bush is making some headway in arguing that the increase in U.S. troops in Iraq is showing military progress.

In the latest USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, taken Friday through Sunday, the proportion of those who said the additional troops are "making the situation better" rose to 31% from 22% a month ago. Those who said it was "not making much difference" dropped to 41% from 51%. (link)
We make progress. In the streets of Baghdad and in mainstreet USA.

He'll Not Make Veep If He Keeps This Up

Poor Barack Obama. He's had to learn, the hard way, what the rest of us learned in the 90's. That is, you don't cross the ice queen.

According to Jeff Zeleny, Obama and Hillary have reached a point where they don't speak to one another. And it's getting worse. If history teaches anything, he'll want to avoid Fort Marcy Park.

The news:
Competitors, Once Collegial, Now Seem Cool
By Jeff Zeleny, The New York Times


Washington, Aug. 4 — They work in the same building. They slog through the same rigorous travel schedule. Along the way, they often cross paths several times a day.

But Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama have barely spoken to each other — at least in any meaningful way — for months.

The tension between the two Democratic presidential hopefuls, which has spilled into public view in the last three weeks, has been intensifying since January. It is clear that the genteel decorum of the Senate has given way to the go-for-the-jugular instinct of the campaign trail. (link)
I fear for the man.