News

10/17/2021 - Toxic algae blooms are multiplying. The government has no plan to help.



A new watchdog report shows the Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t have a cohesive strategy for dealing with freshwater harmful algal blooms.

10/16/2021 - A US small-town mayor sued the oil industry. Then Exxon went after him.



The mayor of Imperial Beach, California, says big oil wants him to drop the lawsuit demanding the industry pay for the climate crisis

10/16/2021 - Forget your carbon footprint. Let's talk about your climate shadow.



To truly evaluate your impact on the environment, you have to go way beyond recycle bins and energy bills.

10/16/2021 - Book review: How our planet grew so warm



In "Our Biggest Experiment," Alice Bell traces the evolution of climate change and unfettered energy consumption.

10/16/2021 - Key to Biden's climate agenda likely to be cut because of Manchin



The West Virginia Democrat told the White House he is firmly against a clean electricity program that is the muscle behind the president’s plan to battle climate change.

10/16/2021 - Key to Biden's climate agenda likely to be cut because of Manchin



The West Virginia Democrat told the White House he is firmly against a clean electricity program that is the muscle behind the president’s plan to battle climate change.

10/16/2021 - Peter Dykstra: The other destructive Columbus



"Columbus Delano" is a name that's positively dripping with American history.

A two-term Ohio Congressman in the 1860's, Delano had a reputation for speaking up for the civil rights of recently freed slaves. He seemed a logical choice for President Ulysses S. Grant to appoint as Secretary of the Interior to deal with the burgeoning "Indian problem" in the American West.

By the time Columbus Delano took office in 1870, both the slaughter and relocation of Native Americans and the extermination of bison were well underway. Delano came to embrace the policy that Plains Indians could best be vanquished if their source of food and warmth simply vanished. With an unofficial federal endorsement, millions of bison were slaughtered.

Secretary Delano connected the dots in 1873:"The civilization of the Indian is impossible while the buffalo remains upon the plains. I would not seriously regret the total disappearance of the buffalo from our western prairies, in its effect upon the Indians, regarding it as a means of hastening their sense of dependence upon the products of the soil and their own labors."

And the American bison nearly did disappear. By the end of the 19th century, a few dozen remained.

Targeting political opponents 

​Fast forward: During his time as Ronald Reagan's Department of the Interior boss, James Gaius Watt famously decreed that the Department's symbol, the slowly recovering bison, should face toward the right, not the left. Watt proposed opening up the entire U.S. coastline to oil and gas drilling, despite there being little industry interest.

And this 20th century successor to Delano also said more ominous things about his western political opponents: "If the troubles from environmentalists cannot be solved in the jury box or at the ballot box, perhaps the cartridge box should be used."

I guess we should find some solace in the downgrade from Delano's political genocide to Watt's political homicide. But the "cartridge box" quip might have been right at home at the Capitol on January 6.

Delano's legacy 

One final thought for this era of political cabals, conspiracies, and cancellations: Delano, California is a farming hub currently coping with the crushing drought.

Founded in 1875 and named to honor a certain genocidal, bison-bashing Interior Secretary, maybe it's time for a name change.

Peter Dykstra is our weekend editor and columnist and can be reached at pdykstra@ehn.org or @pdykstra.

His views do not necessarily represent those of Environmental Health News, The Daily Climate, or publisher, Environmental Health Sciences.

Banner photo: American bison. (Credit: dbarronoss/flickr)

10/15/2021 - ‘We’re taking action into our own hands’ — A community stands against a landfill



Long Island residents and their allies seek environmental justice after decades of pollution.

10/15/2021 - How arson factors into California’s wildfires



While it may grab headlines, the actual sparks are much more complex.

10/15/2021 - Shell CEO roasted at TED countdown climate conference



As Shell’s CEO Ben van Beurden spoke at a TED conference, he was interrupted by organizers, one of whom called him "one of the most evil people in the world."