President Trump pardoned two Oregon ranchers Tuesday, firing a new salvo in a complicated culture war previously marked by air-mailed sex toys, nuanced disputes over the management of public lands, and a police shootout that killed a would-be leader of a modern crackpot revolution. But the details of Trump’s move indicate he is less interested in reversing an unjust sentence than he is in giving a thinly-veiled “attaboy” to a small group of heavily armed chaos agents who seek to undermine the federal government’s proper role in managing public lands all across the western U.S.
Plans to mine alongside Alaska’s pristine Bristol Bay, where half the world’s salmon are fished, had appeared dead in the water in recent years. Not anymore. The Environmental Protection Agency has dropped a regulatory plan that would have protected Bristol Bay from the planned Pebble Mine, encouraging the project’s backers to seek permits and move forward.