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VP Harris to NASA: Are You Able to 'Track Trees' by Race for 'Environmental Justice?'

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Can we all just agree Vice President Kamala Harris should be nowhere near anything NASA touches?

This is an issue, I think, which can bring America together. Conservatives, liberals, independents: We can all just hold hands and tell Kamala to cut it out. This could be the unity the Biden-Harris ticket promised but never delivered. Our divided nation can stop yelling at each other for a few minutes and just focus on keeping Harris away from NASA for a little while, and then maybe build on that.

Yes, she’s supposed to be the head of the revived National Space Council, but that hasn’t even met yet. We can finagle it so that she spends a little more time at the border or figuring out new ways to waste taxpayer dollars. This is all eminently doable.

Let’s just go over Harris’ recent history with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, just in case you need a refresher. Last month, the vice president appeared in an embarrassing, bizarre video for NASA in which she talked to a group of kids. It emerged later they were all child actors — but Kamala’s acting came off as worse, somehow, almost as if she was someone who’d accidentally taken a double dose of her medication that morning.



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That all went horribly enough — but nearly a month later, the veep was going bad-viral again after a visit to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, on Friday, during which she asked whether our space program can “track trees” in neighborhoods by race for “environmental justice” concerns.

Mind you, the whole trip was woke-tastic, with Harris and NASA Administrator Bill Nelson there to unveil the first pictures from the Landsat 9 Earth imaging satellite.

“The images show Detroit with neighboring Lake St. Clair, a changing Florida coastline and areas of Navajo Country in Arizona. They will add to the wealth of data helping us monitor crop health and water used for irrigation, manage vital natural resources and track the impacts of climate change,” a NASA news release read.

Should NASA satellites be tracking 'tree equity?'

Here was the filtered quote cherry-picked by media-release gurus to make Harris look good: “I truly believe space activity is climate action. Space activity is education. Space activity is also economic growth. It is also innovation and inspiration. And it is about our security and our strength,” she said.

“When it comes to our space activity, there is limitless potential … So, as we go forth from here, let us continue to seize the opportunity of space.”

Meanwhile, here’s where Harris’ message is unmediated by the retouching of administration handlers:

“Can you measure, um, trees?” Harris asked.

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“Because part of that data that you’re referring to, and it’s an E.J. — environmental justice — but you can also track, by race, their averages in terms of the number of trees in the neighborhood where people live.”

Conservatives on Twitter had a field day with this one:

It’s worth noting that not only are these “real phrases Democrats use,” the original $3.5 trillion version of the Democrats’ massive spending bill currently stuck in Congress (and significantly pared down to $1.75 trillion) included $3 billion for a tree planting program “with a priority for projects that increase tree equity,” according to Fox Business.

And what is “tree equity,” you may ask? Let American Forests, an environmental group which dispenses “tree equity” scores, describe the concept to you.

“The story is the same in nearly every city across the United States. With few exceptions, trees are sparse in socioeconomically disadvantaged and neighborhoods of color and more prominent in wealthier, whiter neighborhoods. Redlining policies, dating back to the 1930s, helped lay the groundwork for this inequity,” their website reads.

“American Forests is focused on addressing this inequity by focusing resources in neighborhoods of highest need. It’s our moral imperative to do so, given how many life-saving and quality of life benefits trees provide people.”

Let’s look beyond the fact that cities tend to have larger minority populations than their suburbs for reasons that are more complex than redlining, or the fact urban areas tend to have less trees than the suburbs for reasons that are less complex than some vague notion of “tree equity.”

If we already know we haven’t achieved full tree equity, there’s no need to track it via Landsat 9. If we don’t and Landsat 9 is needed to track environmental justice, we shouldn’t be making these presumptions about it, should we be?

But then, one imagines that’s not why Vice President Harris was asking whether we could “track trees” for “environmental justice” during this news conference. Instead, she was clumsily showing off how NASA was working toward tree equity via space justice.

Conservatives agree this whole concept is dumb. Liberals might agree with it, but, I imagine, they have come to the conclusion Harris isn’t the ambassador for great space justice they want. Independents are probably wondering what the heck this is all about. None of us want to see her on another one of these forays into self-parodying NASA booster-dom.

Finally, that long-promised unity.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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