This is the full text of Idaho County commissioner and Lt. Governor candidate Jim Chmelik’s speech as given to the Idaho legislature’s joint resource and conservation committees, on Feb. 3, 2014. This transcript occasionally omits repeated or misspoken phrases for the sake of clarity. -AO
I’d first like to thank the committee for taking time to listen to the good people of this room through us. I want you to take a good look around this room, because this is Idaho, right here, what you’re looking at. These citizens here today, it’s not Jonathan Oppenheimer and the Idaho Conservation League, it’s not the Wilderness Society, it’s not the Nature Conservancy, it’s not Rivers United for Idaho, it’s not Friends of the Clearwater, who propose radical ideas that are destroying our forests and our way of life in this country.
You know this country, we hear about it’s founded on the rule of law. I’d like to give you a little different perspective. I don’t know if I can really add anything to what was added here, because everybody has done a great job. But I really don’t think we were established under the rule of law. We were established under the rule of a natural law, and I think we’ve forgotten that. That natural law was placed in our Declaration of Independence and codified in law in the Constitution of the United States to protect the rights of these individuals in this room, the individuals on this committee and the individual every American in this country.
Today I think we’ve forgotten that. Now I’ll give some examples of when we’ve broken the law in this country. When 56 men signed the Declaration of Independence they committed high treason punishable by death. Dred Scott took our Constitution, took a look at it and said ‘I am not three-fifths of a man.’ We got that part wrong in our constitution. During World War II, we interned Americans and we took their property from them and we never gave it back. And we did that under the precedents of law and rule and the Supreme Court agreed with an executive order in this country. In 1955 Rosa Parks refused to go to the back of the bus and she broke the law.
Gentlemen, it’s not the rule of law we need to be concerned about. It’s those foundations in our principles of what we have in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
The EPA today rules by the rule of rule, I would call it. It’s not a law. They make these things up as they go along and I believe Tom said it best: they’re jackbooted thugs. They operate through intimidation and fear. That’s not the way our government should operate. That’s not the way our government was set up to operate.
Let’s take a look at the economic impacts we always talk about in Idaho. I’ve been reviewing economic impacts in the state for quite a while, because the economics are not that great. Our median income has fallen from $60,000 dollars a year to $56,000 dollars a year. We’ve added between from 89,000 to 214,000 people on the food stamp rolls in this state. We are 45th in GDP. Yet the environmental community, what I call the radical environmental community – because I think you have the real environmental community sitting in this room – but the radical environmental community tells us about the recreational economy that we’re supposed to have. But at every turn we see that economy destroyed. We’re suing in Idaho County over the Clearwater Forest Management Plan because they’ve kicked the snowmobilers off the forest. Who headed up those lawsuits? Friends of the Clearwater.
Snowmobiles don’t leave a footprint, guys. Just like these dredgers don’t leave a footprint in the river. As a matter of fact, I’ve seen video tape of the dredgers with fish in behind them, just having a heyday feeding on what’s there.
We need to get back to protecting the rights of the people in this room. We all took an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States. I take that oath very seriously, as well as you do. My intention is not to accuse anybody of not taking that oath seriously. I believe you do. But I think sometimes we need to refresh a little bit of our past and take a look at what it is to move forward in the future.
I can give you a few little stats real quick about in Idaho County what environmental policies have done to our county when 246,000 acres burned. I believe this committee has heard me say this before but I believe it’s worth repeating. That equated out to 1.23 billion board-feet of timber burned to the ground. At $300 a thousand, that was $369 million dollars in resources lost to our county. If we had the 25 percent fund, that could’ve provided $92.5 million to build new schools, to fund education, fund our local road districts and our county road departments and our county government. And we don’t have it any more. The multiplier in the economy of $369 million dollars is five to seven in the timber industry. Multiply that by just three and that’s a billion dollars in lost jobs and economic activity.
These good people here took off today from their jobs. These people in this room aren’t wealthy. They aren’t rich, but they care. They care more than any environmental organization that I’ve ever seen. They understand we need to take care and preserve this for the next hundred years. They’re just trying to make a living, some of them. Some of them are just trying to recreate. What this has done to our economy is there are people who can’t come in to our county because they’re afraid to come in. OK, they use our hotels, they buy our gas, they go to our grocery stores. They even buy some things at our local pharmacies, things like that. These impacts are huge when you start multiplying them out.
If we’re gonna increase the value in Idaho for Idahoans, it’s gonna be through the utilization of our natural resources. And these people in this room, every single one of them, has just as much right to go in and dredge these rivers as the boaters do to fish on them, as the rafters do to go raft, as I do to go swimming with my children. That’s what this is about. It’s about our freedom and our liberty. We need to stand for that.
I don’t know if I can say anything else. I think it was all said here. I don’t know if I added too much to it. The sheriff did a great job. Joe, Tom did a great job, and I’ll let these other good people talk.