A few days short of three years ago, Rep. Rob Bishop invited the Sierra Club to participate in a new kind of process. He wrote, “After observing and participating in the public lands debate for many years, I believe we are in the midst of a paradigm shift.” Because of our experience with Rep. Bishop during the creation of the Cedar Mountains Wilderness Area designation in 2005, we took his words to heart. We presented him some options that could lead to a compromise. He has not taken any of that to heart.
Rep. Bishop and Rep. Chaffetz claim to have achieved a compromise, but they failed in the sense they mean. Dictionaries generally define compromise as a process of resolving conflicts, disagreements, opinions and disputes by concessions or modifications that are mutual or acceptable to both or all parties. They represent one side of the public lands debate. They can only declare a unilateral decision and cannot claim compromise without actually achieving agreement.
However, they have achieved compromise in a second meaning of the word. Sometimes compromise means accepting resolutions that are a reduction in standards or accepting undesirable standards. My computer dictionary notes compromise used as a verb can mean “cause to become vulnerable or function less effectively” or “bring into disrepute or danger by indiscreet, foolish or reckless behavior.” In this sense, our representatives have indeed reached compromise.
Unfortunately, Rep. Bishop and Rep. Chaffetz offered too little, too late. The only way this problem will be resolved is by defeating the PLI in this Congress. We wish them well if they want to go forward, but reaching real compromise will take time – more time than remains this year. If they choose to continue to work on a viable Public Lands Initiative, we will participate.