George Graham

Has Protecting the Environment Become a Crime?

Has it really come to this? Are American voters so worried about the economy that they’re willing to despoil the green earth God gave us in exchange for  jobs? Mitt Romney must think so.

He tempted last night’s presidential debate audience – and millions of voters watching on TV – with the promise of  jobs by the million in exchange for a pass to let corporations plunder and pollute at will.

In that debate, protecting the environment was portrayed as a crime, and President Obama was presented as the criminal.

Romney’s voice dripped scorn as he accused the president of prosecuting oil companies for killing migratory birds in North Dakota. Romney neglected to mention that the law under which the oil companies were charged has been on the books since 1918 and the case had nothing to do with the president.

In Romney’s world, a few dead birds are a trifle to be laughed at. What does protection of wildlife or preservation of the wilderness matter when there’s oil flowing beneath the ground? Dollar signs glowed in his eyes as he preached his drill-baby-drill sermon.

And if coal mining moguls want to blast the entire tops off mountains and choke the waterways with toxic ash, why not? There are jobs in them there hills!

How dare Obama get in their way? How dare he try to set limits on the amount of poison that coal mining companies can dump on the land and coal-fired factories can belch into the air?

Who was Obama to tell oil and natural gas companies when and where they can drill?

Didn’t he know Americans need jobs? Didn’t he realize the oil and gas and coal companies are doing us a big favor by trashing our land,  poisoning our streams and making a greenhouse of our sky?

So what if our children choke on toxic fumes, our rivers roil with rotting fish, our beaches reek with the stench of oil-soaked birds?

So what if flames gush out of our faucets instead of water and rivers are set ablaze by pollution?

Do we want jobs or not?

And this president is standing in our way! He is even trying to prevent another BP disaster!

What kind of president would do a thing like that? Not Mitt Romney!

President Obama was actually forced to defend his attempts at environmental protection. He was almost apologetic as he tried to explain he had bent over backward to accommodate the energy industry, but he thought maybe there should be some common-sense limits.  And, by the way, shouldn’t America be looking to the future by investing in such industries as wind and solar power?

I cannot believe Americans would be so soulless as to trade their birthright for the promise of a job.

I cannot believe they would bow down before the Mighty Romney and his ilk, abandoning the earth to depredation, sacrificing consumers to unregulated exploitation and consigning workers to sweat shop conditions.

Of course, Romney didn’t put it that way. He made the choice sound much more palatable.

Here’s what he said:

I want to make America the most attractive place in the world for entrepreneurs, for small business, for big business, to invest and grow in America.

And to do that, Americans must be prepared to accept the oppressive conditions that Romney and his venture capital pals enjoy in China and other foreign countries.

President Obama obviously doesn’t see it that way. He would prefer to make America “the most attractive place” for the rest of us to live and work.

We’ll see what voters have to say on November 6.

Click here for a report on the migratory birds case.

Click here for a transcript of the debate.



About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for