Public Trust advocate Felix Smith faces our corrupt government

Felix Smith


The following is what formed the core of my recent letters to my Senators and Congressman.  You can use any part of the letter you want to build your own letter regarding the public trust.  Right now the Public Trust is getting the shaft from the Trump administration.      


I am concerned about the direction our government is headed and at what cost to our society and our natural world. This Administration wants to sell off the people’s assets and public trust resources that I and millions of Americans have a property interest. The Federal government is a trustee of these properties. As such the Federal government and you as my Senator have a fiduciary duty to protect my property interests.

The idea that agencies of the US. Government can change the rules at will to benefit friends of the Administration (pay to play) or alter the meaning / conclusions of NEPA style reports (New York Times, March 2, 2020) to benefit Administrations friends and financial supporters will lead to a catastrophe and a break down of society norms.

Congress has passed many laws that delegate Federal involvement in the protection, conservation and improvement of our air, our water, our national forests, our public domain, our National Parks, timber, minerals and public trust resources like our fish and wildlife, and our scenic vistas and cultural resources.

Courts have held that any member of the general public has standing to raise a claim of harm to the public trust before a court or regulatory body, and that such action is not time barred (People v. Kerber -1908, Marks v. Whitney - 1971, and National Audubon Society v. Superior Court - 1983)

Protecting public trust resources, uses and values (trust assets) is an inherent duty of the sovereign. It is an affirmative duty, it can not be discarded like throwing out trash. The Federal government is a sovereign; therefor the Federal government has the affirmative duty to protect public trust resources, uses and values threatened by the exercise of conventional property rights. The Federal government also has delegated powers as delegated by the Congress. For example, the policy language of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) declared that it is federal policy that federal actions will encourage harmony between man and his environment, will encourage and promote efforts to prevent or eliminate damage to the property belonging to the people, but held in trust by government agencies. In essence the Congress has declared and reaffirmed that the Federal government it is the guardian and trustee for the environment. The delegated powers of the Federal Clean Water Act, Federal Clean Air Act, the various acts for managing National Forests, National Parks, National Domain lands, the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, are all phrased in stewardship and trustee language, not in exploitative language.

NEPA’s primary purpose is to attain better and more informed decisions and more meaningful outcomes. The NEPA process is intended to help federal officials make decisions that are based on an understanding of the environmental consequences of proposed decisions and to take meaningful actions to protect, restore and enhance the affected aspects of the environment, ecosystems, and its renewable and non-renewable resources, to take a holistic view of our environment.

People want effective government. To me effective government means that conservation, and environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Endangered Species Act, etc. will be faithfully carried forth without prejudice. It also means that career civil servants responsible for conserving and protecting the Nation’s common wealth, associated trust uses and values should be allowed to do their respective jobs, to prepare reports, present their findings, and make recommendations without fear of partisan political pressure or fear of reprisal.

If government scientists can not tell the truth because of political pressure, who then can the people trust? The political pressure of “Who told who to do what? Who passed the instructions down the chain of command? Who cherry picked or fudged the data in the report or its findings and recommendations? The people must know the answers to such questions and the people identified. The truth will come out it just takes time.

Who in this Administration or in Congress is going to demand professional ethics; take a stand for what is a moral obligation and a fiduciary responsibility to protect public trust resources and other assets in which we all have a property interest?

I agree that one can’t promote principled anti-corrupt policies and actions with out pissing off corrupt people. However, the people must demand professional ethics and scientific credibility from all in government. If the American people fail to demand the truth or can no longer trust what the President or agency officials say or their actions, our democracy could fall to an imperial president and a political system favoring special favors for special interests run by oligarchs and their political cronies.

Conclusion: Based on what I read and see we have arrived at that time.