The Wise Use movement is a political and social movement that emerged in the United States during the 1980s and 1990s. The movement is characterized by a pro-business and anti-environmental stance that emphasizes the exploitation of natural resources for economic gain.
The Wise Use movement originated in response to growing environmental activism and the perceived threat it posed to resource-dependent industries, such as logging, mining, and ranching. The movement advocates for the unrestricted use of public lands, the expansion of extractive industries, and the weakening of environmental regulations.
The Wise Use movement has its roots in the traditional conservative ideology of limited government intervention and individual freedom. However, it differs from traditional conservatism in its strong support for the extractive industries and opposition to environmental protection.
The movement has been criticized for its disregard of the long-term consequences of resource exploitation, and for its lack of concern for the impact on the environment and public health. Critics argue that the Wise Use movement places the short-term economic interests of industry over the long-term health and well-being of the environment and communities.
The Wise Use movement has had a significant impact on public policy in the United States. The movement was successful in influencing the Reagan and Bush administrations to adopt policies that favored extractive industries and weakened environmental protections. The movement also played a key role in shaping the policies of western states, where the majority of public lands are located.
One of the most visible examples of the Wise Use movement’s impact was the Sagebrush Rebellion of the 1970s and 1980s. The Sagebrush Rebellion was a movement of western ranchers, miners, and other extractive industry groups who advocated for greater control of federal lands. The movement called for the transfer of control of federal lands to state and local governments, which they believed would be more supportive of extractive industries.
The Wise Use movement has also been associated with a number of controversial incidents, including the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon by armed militants in 2016. The occupation was led by members of the Bundy family, who had become symbols of the Wise Use movement through their involvement in the earlier Cliven Bundy standoff in Nevada.
Despite its early successes, the Wise Use movement has faced significant challenges in recent years. Growing public awareness of the impact of climate change and environmental degradation has led to increased support for environmental protections and renewable energy. The decline of the extractive industries and the growth of the outdoor recreation and tourism industries have also shifted the balance of power away from the Wise Use movement.
In conclusion, the Wise Use movement is a political and social movement that emerged in the United States during the 1980s and 1990s. The movement advocates for the unrestricted use of public lands, the expansion of extractive industries, and the weakening of environmental regulations. The movement has had a significant impact on public policy in the United States, but has also faced significant criticism for its disregard of the long-term consequences of resource exploitation. Despite its early successes, the Wise Use movement has faced challenges in recent years, as public awareness of environmental issues has grown, and support for renewable energy and environmental protections has increased.