It’s time to pick the most outrageous eco-villain of 2010. Fill out the form at the bottom of the page to cast your vote. The Center for Biological Diversity established the Rubber Dodo award in 2007 as a way to spotlight those who do their very best – that is, worst – to destroy wild places and drive species to extinction. The award, named after the most famous extinct species on Earth, is given out every year.
Previous recipients of this prestigious faux-accolade were land speculator Michael Winer (2009), polar bear opponent Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (2008) and Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne (2007), who set a record low in the number of plants and animals he placed on the endangered species list.
The 2010 nominations (drumroll, please):
BP CEO Tony Hayward: Hayward was at BP’s helm when the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded April 20, killing 11 people and launching the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history as more than 200 million gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. Hayward and BP leapt into spin-doctor mode, downplaying the magnitude of the spill and holding back key information. Hayward claimed at one point, “I’d like my life back.” Well, so would the Gulf — the 6,500 birds and turtles that have already died and the thousands of others whose future is now at risk. The Center has been actively working to hold BP accountable for the spill’s damage, and though Hayward may be on his way out the door, his company can’t be let off the hook.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar: The former Colorado rancher in the big white cowboy hat rode into office in early January 2009 declaring “there’s a new sheriff in town.” If only that were true. Not only did he approve — with no environmental review — BP’s infamous Deepwater Horizon oil rig, but he also boasted about pushing the Obama administration into the biggest expansion of offshore oil drilling in three decades. Meanwhile, he’s lifted protections for wolves and opened them up to hunting (a decision later shot down by a federal court) and continued the Bush administration’s refusal to protect virtually any new species under the Endangered Species Act. The Center has filed seven lawsuits since the Gulf disaster, including several aimed at Salazar’s so-called “reforms,” and taken legal action to protect wolves and ensure protection for species.
Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter: Rather than give gray wolves in Idaho the support they need, Otter has threatened to pull his state’s participation in monitoring the population and investigating wolf deaths. It was Otter who last year celebrated the removal of wolves from the endangered species list by declaring at a rally, “I’m prepared to bid for that first ticket to shoot a wolf myself.” After a federal judge restored wolf protections in Idaho and Montana this summer, Otter gave the feds an ultimatum to either give the state more leeway to kill wolves or see Idaho drop its participation in the wolf program. The Center has been advocating for increased protections for wolves all over the country (including participation in the lawsuit that restored protections this August) and has called for a nationwide wolf recovery plan to restore wolves in other parts of the country.
Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell: Parnell has cribbed several pages from the political playbook of 2008 Dodo winner and former Gov. Sarah Palin: oppose protections at every turn for polar bears and other imperiled species; push for dirty oil and gas drilling in pristine landscapes; and pursue dangerous offshore projects in Arctic waters. Parnell and his cronies continue to use Alaska taxpayers’ money to fight plans to federally protect the Cook Inlet beluga whale (just 321 were found at last count) while pursuing offshore drilling. A federal judge this summer halted plans for offshore operations in the Chukchi Sea off the north coast of Alaska, but Parnell & Co. are unlikely to let that decision stand. The Center has been fighting for years to protect Alaska species from oil and gas development, climate change and other threats.
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The 2010 Rubber Dodo Award winner will be announced in early October. Cast your vote now.
Photo credits: Tony Hayward courtesy Fickr/World Economic Forum; Ken Salazar courtesy Flickr/Barack Obama; Butch Otter courtesy U.S. federal government; Sean Parnell courtesy U.S. federal government.