To say that Richard Pombo is an environmental skeptic is putting it mildly. When asked if Pombo accepted the worldwide scientific consensus that global warming is a fact, his spokesperson, Wayne Johnson, shilly-shallied. "What I have heard him say is the jury is still out," Johnson cautiously ventured. "For those absolutely convinced, I would not put him in that category."
Pombo entered Congress determined to "reform" the Endangered Species Act and other tree-hugging depredations on the rights of private property owners. Before arriving in Washington, he cowrote a book titled This Land Is Our Land: How to End the War on Private Property, in which he declared that he’d become politically active after a skirmish with the East Bay Regional Park District about the creation of a public right-of-way through his property. He later switched his story to say that his family’s property values had been hurt when their land was designated a San Joaquin kit fox critical habitat.
Both claims were entirely without merit. But Pombo is not one to let the facts get in the way.
Pombo says the ESA, which is widely regarded as one of the more successful pieces of environmental legislation ever, is a failure. Pombo’s “reforms,” however, recently ran into a brick wall in the Senate. If passed, the reforms would have removed the concept of critical habitat from the ESA, which means that a threatened species would have been protected, but its home territory would not have received such protection.
Pombo has hit numerous other environmental high points. Among them was his idea to allow ham radio operators to erect antennae on the Farallones Islands. He proposed selling 15 sites within the national parks as a way of raising money for energy development. He was one of the original sponsors of the legislation to allow drilling on Alaska’s north slope.
And the 11th Congressional District representative has taken interesting stands on all sorts of other issues, from civil rights to drugs to gun control to gay rights. Because he has such a wide range of conservative interests, a short list of his Congressional voting record will suffice.
Pombo has opposed stem cell research, supports banning “partial birth” abortion, and has a 0 percent rating from NARAL, the pro-choice group. He voted for the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and against allowing gay adoption in Washington, DC.
He has voted in favor of making the PATRIOT Act permanent and supports a constitutional amendment to oppose flag burning and desecration. He supports more prisons, the death penalty, and more cops. He voted to prohibit medical marijuana and HIV-prevention needle exchange, in Washington, DC.
Pombo has a 97 percent approval rating from the US Chamber of Commerce. He opposes gun control and product-misuse lawsuits against gun manufacturers. He got an A-plus rating from the National Rifle Association.
For a more in-depth appreciation of Richard Pombo’s politics, go to www.ontheissues.org/CA/Richard-Pombo.htm, which gives him a 70 percent hard-right conservative rating. (Tim Kingston)
Research assistance by Erica Holt