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Policy: Environment & Energy

Another Big Green power player moves up in Obama's Washington

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Ron Arnold,Columnists,Barack Obama,Interior,Big Government,Analysis,Energy and Environment,National Park Service

President Obama this week nominated Rhea Sun Suh to be the Department of the Interior’s assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks, a move that has brought shudders to ranchers, miners, timber harvesters and energy workers nationwide, particularly in the West.

The reason is that this high post controls both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service.

Those two large agencies have a track record of appalling behavior that ranges from massively coercing private property away from thousands of owners, to faking science for new regulations, to cozy sue-and-settle lawsuits with not-so-former green group colleagues.

Suh is presently Interior’s assistant secretary for policy, management and budget, a position she came to in 2009.

With the arrogant Obama administration already overstocked with autocratic, intransigent, unaccountable agency heads, this nominee requires close scrutiny.

Who is Rhea Sun Suh?

She’s a native of Boulder, Colorado, educated at Barnard College and Harvard University, and served as senior legislative aide to Colorado Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, who switched from Democrat to Republican during her tenure.

Republicans should note that Suh told a reporter that she found the move “personally challenging,” not a bipartisan epiphany. She resigned the next year.

In 1998, Suh was hired as a program officer of the Big Green megabucks William and Flora Hewlett Foundation -- current assets, $7.4 billion ($1.9 billion in 1998), according to the database CitizenAudit, created by the Washington Examiner's Luke Rosiak.

At Hewlett, Suh managed their multimillion-dollar Western grants portfolio, doling out hundreds of thousands to green groups who sued the government to block productive ventures and usurp private property rights at the federal, state and local levels from the Dakotas to Texas to the Pacific — and even helped outlaw production in 21 million acres now called the “Great Bear Rainforest” in British Columbia, Canada.

With the Hewlett job came a membership to the 200-plus-member Environmental Grantmakers Association, a major nerve center and force-multiplier of Big Green’s foundation netwar capacity.

Writer Eve Pell argued in 1990 in Mother Jones Magazine, “by deciding which organizations get money, the grant-makers help set the agenda of the environmental movement and influence the programs that activists carry out.” That was 1990. It’s practically total control today.

The ferocity of EGA denizens can be gauged by an applause line from Canadian academic and activist David Suzuki’s keynote speech at their 1992 annual retreat: “The planet is under siege by the deadliest predator ever known in the history of life on earth.”

That would be you and me, of course, and all other human beings. Well, predator Suh involved herself deeply in the EGA, serving for many years on assorted committees as chairman and vice chairman.

In 2007, Suh became Conservation and Science Program Officer at Big Green money machine David and Lucile Packard Foundation ($6.3 billion current assets, $6.6 billion in 2007, according to CitizenAudit).

She continued blocking productive ventures, particularly in the Feather River region of California’s Sierra Nevada.

In her present Interior job, Suh led diplomatic negotiations for an international agreement that will permanently prevent oil, gas and mineral production in the Flathead River basin in the U.S. and Canada.

She dismantled Interior’s production-oriented Minerals Management Service and replaced it with three industry-punishment fiefdoms after the disastrous Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Astoundingly, Suh used her keynote speech at the Environmental Grantmakers Association’s 25th anniversary retreat last year to invite its wealthy elites to use her position to advance their grantees.

“I look forward to working with you, my colleagues, mentors and friends, to utilize the skills and talents of the EGA community to advance a more resilient world and a resilient movement.”

That’s appalling – “to advance the movement,” not America. Suh’s magisterial allegiance to Big Green is chilling.

The Senate must not misjudge this nominee. She is a brilliant and passionately dedicated ideologue, a master manager and consummate strategist.

Would she be able to run the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service? Oh, yes. She — and every Big Green group she ever bankrolled — would rule them.

Do not underestimate Rhea Suh - she represents a grasping power that America can ill afford to have looming over its vast federal domain.

Ron Arnold, a Washington Examiner columnist, is executive vice president of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise.
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Ron Arnold

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The Washington Examiner