Sagebrush Rebel: Reagan’s Battle With Environmental Extremists and Why it Matters Today (Regnery, 2013) by William Perry Pendley, describes how radical environmentalists sparked a revolution against federal land regulation led by head rebel Ronald Reagan. Today, high fuel and energy prices, formerly caused by Carter administration policies, have returned with a new President to blame. Pendley’s book provides valuable lessons for the next Sagebrush Rebel who might try to end the environmentalists’ stranglehold on energy production and American economic potential.
Sagebrush Rebel details Reagan’s history as a conservationist. Conservationism was the original environmentalism. Conservationists considered humans to be stewards of natural resources. As a conservationist Reagan believed in a moral obligation to protect resources for future generations. Conservation’s elevation of human needs is a value thousands of years old and is described in the Old Testament:
You have given him rule over the works of your hands/ putting all things under his feet/All sheep and oxen/ yes, and the beasts of the field/The birds of the air/ the fishes of the sea/ and whatever swims the paths of the seas. (Psalms 8, 6-9)
Throughout the 1970s and culminating in the heavy handed policies of the Carter administration the human-centered conservation movement morphed into the environmentalist movement which revered inanimate objects and animals. The beasts of the fields and fishes of the sea were on par with human needs, or even superior to them.