‘Facts not in evidence’ stymie park discussion
Rep. Scott Tipton recently voiced reservations about a proposed bill to make Colorado National Monument the nation’s 60th national park. His rationale for those reservations is more than a bit disconcerting.
Either Tipton doesn’t understand that any law or regulation that affects national parks applies to monuments as well, or he’s engaged in a deliberate attempt to misdirect the public on the facts.
Neither is good.
A change in designation is a name change. That’s it. There’s no change in protection, funding or restrictions. That’s why we’re supporters. A national park increases the likelihood of more tourism without encumbering the community with any more federal authority than already exists.
So, when Tipton voiced concerns that the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers are considering rule changes that could result in regulatory headaches for our community based on park status, he’s either misinformed or misapplying the facts.
Any federal rule change that might affect a national park would affect a national monument in exactly the same way. To suggest otherwise reflects a serious lack of understanding.
Unfortunately, that’s all too common in this debate.
We’ve seen growing examples of a common courtroom ploy applied to discussions about park status.
If a plaintiff’s lawyer asked a defendant, “When did you stop beating your wife?” any competent defense lawyer would object because the question assumes facts not in evidence. Questions loaded with any unsupported statement — preposterous or not — are unfair because they can pollute the minds of jurors. It’s dirty pool in trial practice and will draw a quick rebuke from a judge. It’s also dirty pool outside the courtroom.
Some folks have posed questions containing propositions that are patently untrue, such as the following: Are you concerned about the enhanced air quality standards for national parks? Will the increased bus traffic require a widening of Rim Rock Drive? Will the National Park Service impose one-way travel over the monument? What about limits on oil and gas activities in proximity of the monument? Isn’t it just a matter of time before the National Park Service expands the boundaries of the park to create a buffer zone?
Questions like these are designed to suggest, for example, that there actually is a real issue about enhanced air quality standards if the monument becomes a park. (It’s not true, by the way.)
We would hope that Tipton has the inclination — and the resources at his disposal — to better understand how redesignating the monument will affect our lives. Questions about the impact of greater tourism are far more relevant than whether park status will invite regulatory overreach.