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Tina Casey headshot

Presumptive Democratic Nominee Hillary Clinton Issues Challenge To Kochs, ALEC, Bundys

By Tina Casey

Former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, according to a delegate count-and-poll conducted by The Associated Press on June 6. That's a historic first in terms of gender diversity, and the potential first woman to occupy the Oval Office has her work cut out for her.

Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton vs. the Bundys

The first order of business appears to be pushing back against the "land grab" movement, in which legislators supported by the Koch-funded ALEC network have been striving to transfer control of federal land to state authority, from whence it could be opened up to more aggressive development by the private sector, including the family business, Koch Industries.

That's apparent from the depth and tone of an op-ed by Clinton, appearing in the San Jose Mercury News on June 2. The presumptive nominee comes out swinging in the third and fourth paragraphs:

...Unfortunately, America's natural wonders are facing a range of threats today, from climate-fueled drought to fiercer wildfire seasons to declining wildlife populations. Meanwhile, special interest groups are waging a constant campaign to privatize our nation's public lands.

I've been fighting against these threats for my entire career...

Clinton notes that as First Lady in the 1990s she launched the "Save America's Treasures" historic preservation initiative. As a U.S. Senator, she sat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and sponsored legislation to combat air pollution, including carbon pollution.  Her work as Secretary of State also involved environmental issues, including protection of the Arctic and other global waters.

As for those "special interest groups," that appears to be a direct reference to land privatization advocacy groups like the ALEC-connected American Lands Council, spearheaded by Utah State Representative Ken Ivory.

The privatization movement is based on a crackpot legal theory, supposedly demonstrating that the U.S. Constitution does not provide for any federal authority over land outside of Washington, D.C.

That's where the notorious Bundy clan comes in. Family patriarch Cliven Bundy and his son Ammon are well known advocates of the privatization position. They are also known for calling upon armed gangs of thugs to attack federal authority at the ecologically sensitive Gold Butte area in Nevada, and the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

Intersectional politics on overdrive

If you've been hearing about "intersectional" politics, the Clinton op-ed provides a variation that broadens the concept of intersectionality to refer to significant overlaps in common interests among different group.

In the Mercury News op-ed, Clinton pushes back against ALEC and the Bundys by calling on support from a wide swath of stakeholders.

First up is the powerful recreation sector, in which Clinton leverages a recent statement by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on the value of federal recreation lands to the U.S. economy:

...by collaborating with community and business leaders alike, we can harness the power of the outdoor economy...


My plan sets a goal of doubling our national outdoor economy in 10 years. That will create millions of new jobs and up to $700 billion in new economic activity across the country.

Next is the energy sector, for which Clinton pledges a tenfold increase in clean power development on federal lands. While that may make some wildlife conservationists nervous, the Clinton plan includes offshore wind energy development, and the Obama Administration has already laid the groundwork for establishing clean power projects at abandoned mines and other pre-developed sites.

Climate change, wildfire management and water conservation compose a third group that encompasses other powerful stakeholders such as agriculture and real estate. Here, Clinton proposes a "multi-agency Western Water Partnership" aimed at improving existing infrastructure.

Clinton also takes the opportunity to make the point that the U.S. has 17 national laboratories for cutting edge research, but none of them are focused on water. She proposes a new Water Innovation Lab that will focus on environmental restoration projects.

Finally, Clinton wraps it up by bringing all parks -- national and local -- into the intersectionality fold:

Let's bring even more of our fellow Americans outdoors by opening up half of the public lands that are currently inaccessible for hunting, fishing and recreation...

Let's make sure that new lands and monuments represent the complete story of America by celebrating women, communities of color, and LGBT Americans.

Teddy Roosevelt believed that our nation's most beautiful places should never be allowed to become the exclusive property of the rich and powerful...

If you caught that part about the "rich and powerful," that's right -- Clinton has bookended her op-ed with direct jabs at the land grab movement.

Talk about multi-tasking! The presumptive Democratic nominee has already been pivoting from primary season to the General Election for the last several weeks, and mere days before clinching her presidential delegate count she is already pivoting from the presumptive Republican nominee to the Koch brothers.

Should be an interesting summer...

Image (screenshot): via Hillary for America.

Tina Casey headshot

Tina writes frequently for TriplePundit and other websites, with a focus on military, government and corporate sustainability, clean tech research and emerging energy technologies. She is a former Deputy Director of Public Affairs of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and author of books and articles on recycling and other conservation themes.

Read more stories by Tina Casey