Craig, "ecoterrorists", hidden riders, and industrial legacy

There is no doubt, the hoopla surrounding ID Senator Larry Craig is a well deserved condemnation of hypocrisy that’s been years in the coming and nobody is celebrating his descent more than progressives throughout the Northwest. Now, he has resigned effective September 30.

But the shamefull manner in which a powerful Republican Senator squandered his standing is thankfully failing to completely overshadow just what it is many in Idaho and throughout the West are celebrating:

In the meantime, his actions in backrooms of the nation’s capital deserve attention. Call it a Craig’s List of how to block good deeds, or at least see that they don’t go unpunished.

Craig’s politically shrewd use of power was effective, he held powerful leadership postions in committees which Ralph Maughan notes afforded him the ability to:

boost welfare ranching, the timber industry, oil and gas, and numerous polluters for a generation and a half. The latest news is that he is now resigning from his Senate Committees, places where he plotted midnight riders to sweep aside laws that benefited wildlife, clean air, and regulation of natural resource industries.

The League of Conservation Voters has this:


Craig’s environmental record has been dismal, according to the League of Conservation Voters. Out of possible conservation voting score of 100 percent, Craig has never scored higher than fiver percent.

In 2006, Craig helped to pass a bill that would allow off-shore drilling for oil and gas; and voted for including leasing fees from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the 2007 budget, a measure which did not pass.

Craig tipped the balance in a vote of 49-48 to reject more than $19 billion in environmental funding through 2010. Among the hardest hit programs are the Land and Water Conservation Fund, as well as programs for conserving public lands and wildlife, oceans, coasts, water and farmland.

Craig supports early storage of defense nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, Nevada before all approvals are in place and a repeal of the 70,000 metric ton statutory limit on emplacement of radioactive materials at Yucca Mountain. “We are eager to see the nuclear materials that helped us win the Cold War move from temporary storage to the permanent repository at Yucca Mountain,” Craig said in 2006, when Republicans ruled Congress.

His shrewd use of language kept him schooling local politicians on the double-speak of looting the public domain. He aggressively tip-toe-tapped around Global Warming asking for “20 years of history ~ after this” before he’d give an inch in recognizing it’s threat to the natural world:

(These videos were taken in the Boise airport, at the end of July ~ after the arrest, but before the guilty plea)

Recently, Craig’s efforts included leveraging his influence to de-appropriate funds used to count Salmon in the Columbia-Snake river system ~ a move to halt the implications of dwindling numbers. In addition, Joel Connelly of Seattle Poste-Intelligencer writes:

In a Democratic-controlled Senate, Craig has single-handedly prevented the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee from taking action on Thomas’ bill, which is supported by both Wyoming senators.

Federal land managers have learned of Craig’s raw power in the past two decades: He has been a dangerous man to run into.

Thomas’ bill would have protected the headwaters of the Snake River, a place of breath-taking wild beauty and biodiversity.

Craig’s no-holds-barred willingness to put pen to his Senatorial letterhead continues to ensure a convoluted managment of your public land that avoids proper environmental regulation and is a well known and feared reality of managment throughout the West.

Welfare Ranching
Closer to home in Idaho, a dark cloud is beginning to lift. Public land welfare ranchers have had a direct line into Washington with Craig’s representation.

In 1995, Craig was instrumental in killing then Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt’s plans to bring reform to the egregiously below market public land grazing fees.

Natural disasters including wildfire, have been opportunistically touted as more reasons to open federal public lands to extractive industry.

The Murphy Complex Fire would illustrate just how far Larry Craig was willing to go to prop up his good ol’ boy welfare ranchers in Idaho when Craig would fully engage in the blame game by using the wildfire to characterize Western Watersheds Project, the litigant party Craig makes reference to, as “ecoterrorists” on the Senate Floor on August 2, 2007:

An unprecedented fuel buildup because a judge, and what I now call ecoterrorists, are destroying the landscape by not allowing reasonably managed, multiple-use approaches to our management. That is why the fire destroyed what it destroyed.


Craig’s conditional support, and prominent position of influence, over so-called “wilderness” bills in Idaho demanded a new lower standard from the few willing conservationists’ continued political capitulation to welfare ranchers. Demand for the uninhibited continued grazing abuse of public land should passage of the bills been feasible, if not direct cash hand-outs to grazers, brought the integrity of wilderness proposals and their conservationist sponsors to their knees. In the end Craig killed the bills anyway, citing the necessity that his bed-fellows’ money and public land be delivered up front.


In 1995 Craig was instrumental in passage of the “Logging Without Laws” rider which introduced salvage logging on large scale without otherwise required environmental analysis. The rider also marked the beginnings of the emerging Republican Congress’ wide-spread use of questionable (but effective) political tactics that hid significant riders within budget appropriations to avoid an up or down vote on the merits of legislation. In the 105th Congress, Craig would move on to introduce revisions of National Forest Management Act:

So what does the timber industry dream about at night? Here are some of the provisions of Craig’s bill:

* Timber harvests and other natural resource “outputs” from the national forests would become mandatory and enforceable. At the same time, environmental standards would be demoted to mere “policies” and thus be unenforceable.

* The U.S. Forest Service could impose fines of up to $10,000 on those it deemed to have filed appeals to halt timber sales for an (undefined) “improper purpose.”

* Once adopted, forest plans (and individual projects like timber sales) could not be stopped in court, no matter how much damage they could do.

* Timber, mining, and grazing interests could meet with officials of the Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management to cut deals in private, with no pesky environmentalists or private citizens looking on.

* The Forest Service and BLM would no longer have to consult with the Fish and Wildlife or National Marine Fisheries services on the impacts of proposed logging on fish and wildlife. Instead, these agencies would only engage in “self-consultation.”

In the 90’s Mark Rey served as Craig’s subcommittee staff director shortly after working as a lobbyist for the American Forest and Paper Association. More recently, Craig would further codify his intent to dismantle the environmental rule of law into the more than willing Bush Administration when he served as Mark Rey’s legislative stooge to undermine the Clinton Roadless Rule :

In fact, even before taking a position with the Bush Administration in October 2001, Rey was working – through Idaho Senator Larry Craig – on a legislative scheme to prevent the Roadless Rule from being implemented.

FYI – Mark Rey is now Bush’s Undersecretary of Agriculture who is currently looking at the possibility of jail time for dragging his feet on court ordered environmental analysis of fire retardant.

The list goes on and on…

The bottom line is simple ~ Craig’s fall is well received by those who care about the public lands and natural heritage of the West. His shame is well deserved on many fronts. One can speculate that the private self-deluding denial which is forcing Craig out of a position of power is tantamount to his, and this current Republican regime’s, egregiously dishonest public conduct. My hope is that his shame will not be contained exclusively in the media to the sordid details of a dirty, dirty bathroom encounter lest we reify the right-wing’s ill-begotten public standards for private conduct. We have the opportunity in his last days of Congress to shed a light on the behind-the-scenes slip-in riders which Craig’s career is characterstic of and with which his chosen date (September 30th) promises to produce. Why would that be the golden date otherwise?

Note by Ralph Maughan: Today New West has a slightly modified version of begreen’s story on Larry Craig. Craig’s True Crimes: A legacy of crimes against nature.


  1. Buffaloed Avatar

    Don’t forget that Craig wanted Idaho to be removed from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. He did not like their rulings on many things but particularly environmental rulings.

    He also tried to close down the Fish Passage Center which kept track of very important information about salmon and steelhead that migrated through the Columbia and Snake River dams. He didn’t like the information that they provided because it showed how damaging the dams are to the fish and provided the information needed to toss out another bogus recovery plan that did more to protect the dams than it did to recover the fish.

    These kinds of underhanded things are why I’m very happy to see him leave office. I hate what he stood for and it was easy to see that he ONLY represented the rich and powerful interests that gave him campaign contributions. If something didn’t have an economic benefit for the interests he represented then it wasn’t worth his time even if it had a huge economic benefit for the average Joe. The benefits could only go to those who already had power and couldn’t be dispersed to the rest of us.

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Just a minor addition, Craig DID shut down the Fish Passage Center, albeit briefly until his legislative action was reversed. The process of shut down and start up again, apparently cost about a million dollars according to a news article I read yesterday.

  3. steve Avatar

    I am sure he will probably get a high paying position as a lobbyist now. These corrupt people never seem to disappear…

  4. kt Avatar

    I think Craig should be asked publicly to print a public retraction for flinging around terms like ecoterrorist.

    And – Here he was all these years, peeping in stalls and “terrorizing” the Nation’s restrooms …

  5. Mike Wolf Avatar
    Mike Wolf

    I wonder…could litigation be initiated against Craig for misrepresenting his constituency, and for such things as subverting the will of the public, lying, and slander?

    Perhaps one day, some organization with the money to do so, can sue this or some other congressional representative and establish a precedent that would force our representatives to be accountable for their actions.

    It’s just a though.

    I know if I had the money (millions of dollars), I’d probably sue Bush, maybe Craig and Otter and a few others as well… Something has to happen to force our representatives to be accountable to us, rather than their minority constituency (ranchers in the case of Craig) or business who have lobbies; which I believe shouldn’t be legal.

  6. be Avatar

    from my understanding, civil suits against representatives, and especially against executive players ~ personally have been discouraged by the courts… of course, bill clinton was an exception when sued by Jones in arkansas while still serving. they allowed civil suits with the executive ~ so long as it doesn’t interfere with constitutional duties ~ which was arguable in this case…

    the case in wyoming, wilkie v. robbins, sort of addressed this. he tried to sue federal employees as individuals rather than in their professional capacity (which hosts more protections for the federal employees) citing bivens & RICO by weaving the measures through the just compensation clause. he failed in the supreme court with private property claim.

    as for craig ~ it’d be nice to have enough cash on hand to sling around and widen some avenues in caselaw to make these dispicable abuses of the public interest more directly accountable in the courts, in a way that would deter individual representatives from knowingly spiting the law ~ and in the long term that might be wise ~ i dunno, i’m not a lawyer ~ but there is sooo much of this going on and so many other abuses to test that are more directly responsive to the spattering of subjectively interested missions of conservation organizations that hands are full as is ~ IMO.

    sometimes i wonder whether these crooks know that it is cheap to produce these illegal measures ~ but expensive to litigate them ~ so they pass riders, legislation, directives, etc. knowing they’ll fall ~ but just to suck up the dollars and resources of public-interest parties ~

    i suppose, that’s why it’s so important to make those donations to the orgs that are particularly effective and are able to maintain focus ~ no matter the amount.

  7. MAF Avatar

    The problem with talk of suing Sen. Craig for calling people “ecoterrorists” while on the floor of the U.S. Senate, is that members of congress have absolute immunity from such suits when such statements are made during “debate” of a bill. One could argue if senators really engage in debate, but the statement as quoted was made while S. Craig was on the floor of the senate, and therefor he is protected from suit.

  8. Terry Avatar

    If he has resigned, how long before he actually leaves office? He’s still spewing his disgust around Washington.

    We (horseowners) have a bill that’s passed the house and is awaiting a vote by the senate. Senator Craig made a public declaration on the Senate Floor of his intent to derail any attempt to bring S 311 to the Floor for a vote.

    One man deciding for the entire country, attempting to block a bill supported by 190 house members and a growing number of senate members. Here’s a little more –

    By now you all know the tactics of our adversaries. They set up phony “welfare” organizations and use the offices of organizations like the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) and the AQHA (American Quarter Horse Association) to project an agenda that has no motivation but greed. Since their position has no morally acceptable justification, they simply create one.

    Most recently they are getting third rate reporters to pump out completely fabricated stories like the ones about horses being abandoned around the country. Having produced this documentary “proof”, they trolled the darkest recesses of the bowels of congress to find someone who would have no problem with propagating their poison. The most recent denizen to emerge to their beckoning calls was Senator Larry Craig, a man who’s career set new and impossibly low standards for hypocrisy and dishonesty. Then they shoved into his well greased palm a wad of these phony stories and sent him out to stain the Senate floor with his “consent objection” based on stories so rank that no self respecting dead fish would be found wrapped in them.

    As many of you already know, the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) is one of the main suppliers to and supporters of the horse slaughter industry and one of the main opponents to the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (AHSPA).

    The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (AHSPA), currently pending before the US Congress, will ban the movement, possession transportation of America’s horses, and ban the transport to slaughter of American horses across the Canadian and Mexican borders. Sadly, pro-horse slaughter organizations such as the American Quarter Horse Association have been working hard to mislead Congress and employ underhanded tactics to block the will of the majority of Congress and the American people.

    Were it not for a few organizations and individuals such as the AQHA and their ally disgraced Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) blocking the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, it would have been signed into law several years ago, saving tens of thousands of horses from a very cruel and unnecessary death.

  9. Resource User Avatar
    Resource User

    The U.S. Senate is a great delibrerative body. One man or one woman can stop any proposed legislation because he or she objects to any part of the legislation. Many times there is too much fat attached to the legislation. Many times it’s a good thing when bills do not pass muster. It’s a hard job to try and please the “majority” of folks in this nation, let alone please the minority on many issues. No where else in the world do you have 100 people trying to do the nations business and try and make it better. 100 people all brought up in different parts of this nation, raised with different ideas, in different schools and possibly in different churches. Oh, no, not churches!
    Who are we to judge them and point our fingers at them? If you think you can do a better job, step up. Throw your hat in the ring and see how good you really are. See how many folks you can get behind you to push your ideas. Oh, your ideas are different than mine. You don’t want to listen to mine. Surprise. This is the problem.
    Every bozo on the blog knows how it all works and knows it all. Blogs are the perfect place for the un-educated to appear educated and the uninformed to appear informed when in reality they are no better than the rest of us……they just have an opinion and think only their opinion is right. Think about it.
    What have you done for Idaho? How about it? Have you done any good for Idaho today?

    Webmaster Note:

    Whois search of “Resource User”s IP address indicates that the IP address used by this commenter is a US Senate administered address. “Resource User” is kind enough to be contributing to our blog using an internet connection provided for use by the US Senate in Washington DC !!!


  10. Webmaster Avatar

    Resource User,

    Who are you ?

  11. JB Avatar

    “Every bozo on the blog knows how it all works and knows it all. Blogs are the perfect place for the un-educated to appear educated and the uninformed to appear informed when in reality they are no better than the rest of us……they just have an opinion and think only their opinion is right.”

    What is your point? Are you suggesting that bloggers and the uneducated don’t have a right to make their opinion heard? Perhaps it galls you that someone actually wants to hold Sen. Craig accountable for his actions?

    You don’t need a PhD to know that Larry Craig is the worst kind of hypocrite; nor do you need one to know that Larry Craig has been exceedingly bad for the environment. That is MY opinion. If in your opinion I am wrong, please educate me.

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Brian Ertz