The Arrogance Of Conservationism

north-dakota-oil-boom

Bismarck-based humanities professor Clay Jenkinson – author of books few people read and rambling, long-winded Bismarck Tribune columns most like to ignore – is quoted in a USA Today article covering a topic that has already been covered ad nauseam by both local and national media. Namely, the impact of North Dakota’s oil boom on western society and the environment.

But what’s striking about Jenkinson’s point of view is that he seems to not have a lot of respect for private property owners developing the resources they own:

North Dakota’s still-accelerating energy boom is “one of the best things that’s ever happened to this state,” says Bismarck-based humanities scholar Clay S. Jenkinson, author of For the Love of North Dakota.

Yet that economic juggernaut, he says, also is creating the “wholesale industrialization” of a subtle landscape often ignored by travelers passing through on Interstate 94 to such marquee destinations as Glacier or Yellowstone national parks.

The area’s undulating prairies and furrowed, pockmarked buttes — formations frontier soldiers described as “hell with fires put out” — are an “acquired taste,” Jenkinson allows. Many residents of the state’s more populated Eastern half (also known as “Greater Minnesota”) even dismiss the Western region as “Godforsakia,” he jokingly adds.

Now, Jenkinson worries, the lyrical emptiness of “America’s Outback” is under seige [sic] — and “no one is going to say, ‘Gee, honey, let’s vacation in the middle of an oil boom.’ “

It’s one thing to want to protect the environment – we all want clean rivers and clean air – but it’s quite another thing to impose some cosmetic standard on property owners. People like Jenkinson, who don’t actually live in the oil patch by the way, liked it when western North Dakota was desolate and empty. Now it is neither, and they’d like to see it return to that.

This is no doubt why Jenkinson was part of a sponsoring committee behind a measure which would have created a board of environmental activists in our state government, controlling an enormous slush fund of oil tax revenues, if voters had approved it (it won’t be on the ballot thanks to the criminal activities of a group of NDSU football players have been charged with). A group like that could not only funnel money to non-profit environmental activist groups which use lawsuits and other tactics to throw a monkey wrench into fossil fuel energy development, but it could also make grants to buy up land to keep it out of the hands of oil developers.

All so that they can keep western North Dakota empty. And desolate. Because that’s how they like it.

There is an enormous sort of arrogance in that which goes far beyond mere environmentalism.  And by arrogance I mean the presumption to impose your cosmetic and social preferences on other people’s lives property.

I would like to think that, had their measure made it to the ballot, North Dakotans would have had the good sense to vote it down.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • InTheKnow

    Clay is a washed up hack from the old dead tree media era. His relevance has long gone away much like the Edsel and Chevy Dolt.

  • kevindf

    What a self-absorbed pointy head! He grew up conflicted because his daddy was one of those evil bankers and his mommy was a virtuous schoolmarm.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clay_S._Jenkinson

  • NDSuperman

    …just like North Dakotans had the good sense to vote themselves a tax decrease? I’m not so sure.

    • $8194357

      2 tru.

  • Roy_Bean

    Why do these people never seem to want to preserve the natural beauty of the Red River valley? They built a whole bunch of towns on a flood plain that contains some of the richest farmland in the world and now they want to spend billions to route the river around Fargo and prevent the natural flow of the Sheyenne river when it finally spills out of Devils Lake. It isn’t about preserving nature it’s about shutting down coal and oil.

    • borborygmi

      Yes to bad 100+ years ago that rivers were used for transportation and as a major water source. Foresight should have told them to move the river cities 30miles to the east or west. Damn pioneers.

      • The Fighting Czech

        a legitimate point… Maybe 200 hundred plus years ago, I doubt the Red has had any useful purposes for the last 100 years, except perhaps for a place to catch Catfish, Suckers, and Bullheads. Dumping sewers into, Plus we get to send Canada, all our garbage every spring….and lets you know when you cross into Minnesota.
        For the last 100 years, there is no legitimate reason to build by the river, except for vanity reasons….

        • toppr8

          And now you ask the landowners who will ultimately be asked to give up their land for “someone else”. That “someone else” who chose to build so close to the river that now they expect others to bail them out of their predicament, at the expense of those not effected by the flood. How much will this limited forsight and now selfish desire cost all of us…..over a billion dollars…..and the loss of farmland a continued loss forever to come…..

        • borborygmi

          Lets see established city with established jobs looking for employees who need established housing, which in turn bring more businesses into the city……Nope, can’t see any reason to build in that city. Should they build by the river ,nope not a good move. Should they build up instead of out, Yes from a conservation standpoint, from a logistics stand point, from the standpoint of taking away from good farmland……From the demand perspective, nope we want the individual home. The larger the lot the better.

  • KJUU

    Dunno, Rob, I don’t see anything in what you quoted that indicates he’s not in favor of property rights. I mean, that’s it? That’s what you’re basing the rest of your comments on? I don’t think there’s a North Dakotan alive that wouldn’t love to find a balance between economic growth with the oil patch and keeping some semblance of what we, you know, love about our state. All I see Clay doing there is making an observation, not pronouncing that it’s a bad, horrible thing that must be stopped.

    I think you’re reading too much into his four paragraphs. And yes, I’ve read his books and many of his columns, not because I’m some environmental whacko but because he captures quite a bit of what I love about North Dakota.

    And that’s coming from someone who lived in Florida for 35 years. I’m home.

    • Albert Lickenspittle

      You are surprised that Rob is a spinner? If Jesus came back Rob would somehow make it look bad for Obama. Rob cannot recognize real problems like income disparity, and Republican Tax cuts for the rich, but if he sees a cigarette butt in the gutter he will assure you Obama put it there.

      • two_amber_lamps

        “Rob cannot recognize real problems like income disparity, and Republican Tax cuts for the rich”

        Regurgitated like a good Marxist… sheistkopf wanna cracker?

        http://static.freepik.com/free-photo/polly-wanna-cracker_23180.jpg

        • $8194357

          Poly want a marxist…
          Squawk…
          Poly want a marxist….
          10X

        • robert108

          So-called “income disparity” is due to a disparity in achievement, which is a personal decision. President Bush cut tax rates for all Americans.

      • jl

        Why should incomes be equal, Mr. Lickalittle? Simple question that no doubt you won’t answer. Dem talking points just give you mantras to read.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      I’m reading into what would be the end result of his political activism in favor of the conservation measure that, thankfully, won’t be on the ballot.

      • dakotacyr

        Ahh…so you are making shit up again.

        • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

          Well, no actually.

        • robert108

          No, just drawing the obvious logical conclusion.

  • Albert Lickenspittle

    Drill baby drill. Quality of life means nothing to Republicans. When your rich you can shut yourself out from the world. Given free reign the Republicans would put up steel buildings on the mall in Washington. Nothing is sacred to the greed dogs but tax cuts for the rich

    • philgray

      another EMIL sighting…..why would a guy change his name….must be embarassed from previous posting EMIL?
      why would we put up steel buildings…we would build something nicer then that…
      In case you did not realize, you need business for your taxes to have government EMIL.

    • robert108

      Poverty and bankruptcy really mess with the quality of life, but developing our domestic energy provides jobs and economic growth, both of which improve the quality of life. Democrat govt is truly greedy; they want ALL our earnings to spend on buying votes.

      • $8194357

        Yup

    • 308T

      @ Albert L: I’m pretty sure your real name is Mike Quinn & you live in Hazen,ND. You also post on the Bismarck Tribunes comment pages as Lord Kadizzle. If I’m wrong it’s unfortunate that ND has two people with the same ultra-irrational trane of thought as you two freaks.

      • robert108

        Are you sure his name isn’t Mike Hunt?

  • Snarkie

    Yawn.

  • ellinas1

    In 1989, Jenkinson became one of the first winners of the nation’s highest award in the humanities, the Charles Frankel Prize. The National Endowment for the Humanities once described Jenkinson as, “A leader in the revival of Chautauqua, a forum for public discussion about the ideas and lives of key figures in American history.” He has been awarded the Robert J. Laxalt Writer of the Year Award from University of Nevada-Reno and is a Rhodes scholar and Danforth Scholar. Jenkinson was a senior fellow for the Center for Digital Government, based in California, and was scholar-in-residence at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon from 2002–2006, and Roosevelt scholar-in-residence at Dickinson State University from 2005-2008.

    The above compliments of Wikipedia.
    Seems to me that Mr. Jenkinson is a very smart intellectual and highly educated person.
    His detractors and critics suffer from penis envy.
    Barnes and Noble bookstore has nine of his books for sale.

    • two_amber_lamps

      Hello gay-pedophile-greekling….

      TAB: Silly faggot, d$#%ks are for chicks.

      Ellinas: “Then beloved Amber, I have a d$#%k for you.”

      8/5/12

      • ellinas1

        Walnuts cost $2.49 at the supermarket.
        Wingnuts and sillynuts are offered for free at the SAB blog.

        • robert108

          Typical nonsense from a stupid sodomite.

          • ellinas1

            The time is 08:00 hrs.

          • robert108

            It’s always time for you to be a stupid sodomite.

          • ellinas1

            The time is 13:03 hrs.

        • two_amber_lamps

          It’s a shame WE don’t get paid for having to put up with your moonbat/pederasty/perversion.

          • ellinas1

            Awwwwwww! Come on, dear Amber.
            You are a sillynut trying to pass for something special.
            A dockside doxie, that has no moxie.

          • two_amber_lamps

            Good morning Greekling-Gayfag…. how are you today?

            TAB: Silly faggot, d$#%ks are for chicks.

            Ellinas: “Then beloved Amber, I have a d$#%k for you.”

            8/5/12

          • ellinas1

            Stop acting like a spurned spinster.

          • robert108

            You never stop trying to recruit.

          • ellinas1

            The time is 13:05 hrs.

    • robert108

      No one cares about your sodomite fantasies, greek.

      • ellinas1

        The time is 12:05 hrs.

  • $8194357

    The elitist left wants the buffalo commons back in fly over country ya know..
    Gather em up in coastal cities and control their every need…

    “When we get piled one on top of another in big cities like Europe,
    we will become just as corrupt as Europe.”
    Thomas Jefferson

    Think Chicago/Detroit and the Democrats “machine”.
    Most every big social justice failed policies taxpayer funded
    war on poverty corrupt politician money pit scam called “government”
    run by Democrats from coast to coast….

    • http://realitybasedbob.sayanythingblog.com/ realitybasedbob

      The elitist left wants the buffalo commons back in fly over country ya know..
      Gather em up in coastal cities and control their every need…

      Ever with the assumtions (sic) and ownwership (sic) asignments(sic), huh boob Gun Nut..

      • two_amber_lamps

        RBB… chose between the following descriptors for yourself, you already know the question.
        Are you an anti-gay marriage BIGOT or Obama’s useful idiot?

      • $8194357

        You need the job, boob?
        Being my spellchecker doesn’t pay any better than livin in
        your mommas basement stalking bloggers…

        • http://realitybasedbob.sayanythingblog.com/ realitybasedbob

          Thank you for once again missing the obvious, Gun Nut.
          Good job.

          • $8194357

            I see the obvious boob..
            Your a leftist God hating
            baby killing
            transgender crisis
            communist
            anti
            American
            useful idiot apoligist..
            We ALL see that boob…

          • borborygmi

            I think you forgot Marxist Muslim Lover also. RBB did you see anything he missed?

          • $8194357

            Always the colectivist huh fart bubble.
            need boob to validate your feelings as well?
            Dr. Phil says thats important for you folks to
            validate and associate and self identify…

          • robert108

            Thanks for admitting that. At least you told the truth once.

          • two_amber_lamps

            RBB… chose between the following descriptors for yourself, you already know the question.
            Are you an anti-gay marriage BIGOT or Obama’s useful idiot?

          • robert108

            No one misses the obvious fact that you are a lying propagandist and namecaller, rbb.

          • robert108

            It’s only “obvious” to you; the rest of us can’t hear those voices in your head.

  • borborygmi

    The light bouncing off the oil rig and the bluffs….sigh what a kodak moment. Absolutely breathtaking . It will be the Sept. picture on the 2013 oilmans calendar. The oily sheen of the water after an overflow will be Aprils the plethora of colors reminding everyone of Aprils Showers. They went a little far with Hamm in speedos for July though. TIC

    • robert108

      Even that enviro shouter acknowledged that the area is not particularly scenic, so how many jobs would it provide in that condition? Developing jobs and income from energy development is a matter of national security in the world of today. Why do you hate prosperity?

      • $8194357

        Profits bad…
        Radicle enviromentalism good…
        What marxist ideology would that be, huh.

        • robert108

          Marxists really don’t give a crap about “the environment”(East Germany was a toxic waste dump), but they use environmentalism as a “useful idiot” to aid in undermining our society and take our freedom.

          • $8194357

            Tru that, but it’s will be in the name of
            “sustainable energy” they gain control and lock down
            the people with global regulations under enviromental protections..

      • borborygmi

        Could you find the statement where I hated prosperity? I believe you are lying again, you owe me an apology.

        • robert108

          When you block domestic energy development, especially in this stagnant obama economy, you hate prosperity. You really couldn’t figure that out, or are you just trying to distract with more personal attack?
          The only thing I owe you is to smack your lies with the truth.

      • dakotacyr

        No, that is not what he said. He said that is what others have said. If you knew anything about Dr. Jenkinson and you clearly don’t you would know this. See I smack you with the truth.

        • robert108

          Not even a little. I don’t accept that guy as any sort of authority on anything, so I regard his opinions, or his parroting of anyone else’s opinion(if you’re telling the truth, which is unlikely) to be equally worthless. It’s not his property, and he has no business trying to control it. You liberals hate private property and individual choice.

  • Dakotacyr

    Arrogance is your post. Mr Jenkinson was born and raised in Dickinson where his mother lives to this day.

    You are a snob! He writes of the beauty of the Badlands where most people in this country think it is desolate. He writes of the history of western North Dakota and how Teddy Roosevelt developed his love of the land and the preservation of it. He is an expert in Thomas Jefferson who sent Lewis and Clark to find the trail to the west.

    And yet you ignore the very first sentence that he wrote in you excerpt.

    So tell me, what is your idea of protecting the environment?

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      Jenkinson wants to derail western development and keep it desolate because that’s what he likes.

      Of course you liberals, who believe in government mandated lifestyles, would love that.

      • Dakotacyr

        What… You a mindreader now? What has Jenkinson said that supports your supposition? Or are you just making shit up again as usual.

        • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

          He supported the conservation measure. That was the goal. Funding obstructionist activism and buying up land.

        • robert108

          It is the long term goal of the enviroleftists to reduce human population by 90%(to “save the Earth”) and to roll back technology to Stone Age levels. All their obstructions are in line with those goals.

          • dakotacyr

            liar.

          • robert108

            “Accuse others of what you do.” – Karl Marx
            I have been cross examining liberals for over 50 years, and when I get one who won’t dance around, with lying and denying, we always get to that point. It’s about experience, little fella.
            In addition, after President Reagan kicked the Soviet Union’s sorry ass, a lot of the old line commie power players migrated to the environmentalist movement. Birds of a feather.

      • DakotaKid

        You can avoid development by buying the rights to the minerals yourself. Your problem is you want other people to sacrifice for your sense of aesthetics.

  • Clay Jenkinson

    Dear Rob,
    This seems a bit harsh. I am fully on board with the boom, which I do think is the best thing that has happened to North Dakota in my lifetime. And I fully respect people’s private property rights–on private land people have 100% right to develop their minerals. On public lands I think we can stand to be a little more selective, to protect places of surpassing beauty. I do like the desolate, windswept, largely empty western plains and badlands of North Dakota, I freely admit, but I am not one of those who thinks we have the right to lock that land up. The boom means full employment, a giant surplus, an end to the rural decline that has had us all wringing our hands for 30 years, etc. If you read my rambling, long-winded column on Sundays in the Bismarck Tribune, you would know that I take a centrist view on these things, and that I believe absolutely in the right of private surface and mineral owners to develop their resources. Naturally I would be delighted if everyone read and admired my books, but I don’t have the luxury of trying to write them to please you. My goal is to write as intelligently and thoughtfully as I can about history, the Great Plains, Jefferson, etc. At any rate, I see nothing in my comments in USA Today that suggest that I would want us to stop the development on private lands, or for that matter on public lands. My only point is that the oil boom is surely a mixed bag, with winners and losers, and one of them, unfortunately without any champions in the economic sphere, is the endless windswept plains beyond the Missouri River. Loving that land for what it has been does not seem to me contemptible. I grew up in Dickinson. I deliberately chose to live west of the 100th Meridian. My mother lives in the house I grew up in in Dickinson. I have close friends throughout southwestern North Dakota. I welcome the boom, but I do honestly lament what we will lose. I’m not sure we are as wide apart in our outlook as you suggest, but I see no reason for ad hominem or incivility. Well-meaning people can honestly disagree about public policy issues and yet maintain mutual respect. You will see, for example, that I have not said a single nasty thing about you here.

    Clay Jenkinson

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      I’m not sure that anyone who sponsored that conservation measure, which would have directed tens of millions (hundreds?) into the coffers of a board whose mandate would be environmental activism. That money could have been funneled into non-profit activist organizations like the Sierra Club and used to buy up western land to take it off the books for development.

      I’d have a lot more respect for your body of work, Mr. Jenkinson, if you wore your motives on your sleeve instead of pretending to the middle ground. I’ll admit that the comments about your columns and books were perhaps unnecessary, but there is nothing more frustrating to me than the arrogance of presuming to tell others what to do with their property for the sake of your own cosmetic preferences.

      And I say that as a native Alaskan who thought it was pretty weird, when I moved to North Dakota, that all the land here was owned by other people.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      I’ll go further and say that my comments were toally unnecessary. As someone who was recently the target of fat jokes by the Fargo Forum editorial board, I ought to know better.

      Perhaps the product of blogging. I don’t have an editor telling me to cool off now and then when I need it.

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