We are living through one of the most difficult periods in conservation history, in a country led by a madman, supported by people that see life through authoritarian rule. The rhetoric and constant stream of nausea created by this leader and his Republican accomplices and excusers isdesigned to keep one off balance, fatigued and scared.
Ignorance and fear are driving a wedge across our nation and people seem more willing than ever to throw away the environment in pursuit of living wages. This has been the turning point for the conservative movement and the crystallization of their efforts to destroy unions, social safety nets and common sense regulation of industry. We are developing a nation of workers, who will work anyway, on any terms, to survive. Nothing has had more direct impact on conservation and protection of species than the destruction of the middle-class that began in earnest during the Reagan years.
We need a society once again that is based in justice and fairness, we need corporations that are forced by rule of law to pay real wages and benefits to all that work for them and we must understand that a stock market built on mergers and acquisitions and returns to shareholders is not good for the environment, because it is killing our middle-class.
Last week I ran into our junior Senator Martin Heinrich, Martin has always been and remains a strong supporter of the environmental causes such as wilderness and monument protections and has been a friend for more than 18 years. When I ran into him I made a proposal, which he said he would give real thought to.
I told him that under the Obama Administration, Republicans continued to introduce legislation no matter if it could pass because they believed in putting down markers and growing their base with legislation that they supported.
In that vein, I suggested that he introduce a package of legislation that was designed to enhance our middle-class and to support a real vision for environmental protection. No half steps, a real vision, something to inspire those who believe in protections for environment and security and jobs for workers across the country, because we cannot continue to see them as separate causes.
The environmental community often brings in different voices when they need support for wilderness or other conservation measures, but the link now is vital and must be reciprocal.
We must support minimum wages and job training and we must demand a real social safety net that is expanded, not chopped. In the conservation realm, we must introduce legislation that is inspiring and designed to capture our nation’s imagination.
Here are a few suggestions, humbly put forth:
- An end to offshore drilling in the Arctic, our East and West coasts.
- The immediate protection of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
- 50% increase in investment in alternative energy by 2020.
- More tax cuts for electric cars and solar.
- Funding that will completely end the backlog of maintenance for our National Parks in three years.
- Expansion of our National Park System to include a major Tall Grass Prairie Park of no less than 500,000 acres and three new sites for National Park expansion, not just upgrading an area.
- Legislation that demands the use of science in classroom textbooks nationwide.
- Protections to remain and expanded for the threated Monuments on land and in the ocean and a directive to create 10 new Monuments by 2021.
- Serious funding and legislation for Climate Change and a return to the Paris accords as a leader.
- No dispersing of the Interior Department across the nation.
- The directive and funding to increase wilderness in America by 35% by 2024.
- The end of predator species killing and killing in their dens, period.
- Expansion of wolf recovery to all Western states.
- Increase in fees to ranchers for using public lands.
- Monies for a new restoration and training program designed for rural and ranching communities to restore public lands, waters, andriparian areas. These monies would come from new taxes on the oil and gas industry.
- 50 million in funding to purchase grazing rights across the West, with more to come by increasing grazing fees.
- The immediate end to Wildlife Services, with that funding going directly to wildlife programs that support predator species.
- The expansion and upgrading of the Endangered Species Act.
- Direct reductions of oil and gas leases by 50 percent by 2020 on public lands.
- Creating an increase of funding to the EPA by 45% by 2020.
- Real legislation to control and regulate pesticides in America and increased funding for organic farming, including increased tax incentives.
To do this and to improve the plight of all Americans Congress must move to end the tax cut imposed by Republicans this past December and more taxes must be placed directly on the top 1%.
Increase spending for birth control her at home and internationally.
Stop all the giveaways to corporate America and force them to return monies to American shores.
More taxes must be placed directly on the fossil-fuel industry and that of Power companies that continue to use coal in their power generation.
We must put a direct tax on the use of plastics, plastic bags and the companies that create them, largely funded by the oil and gas industry.
The passage of a real HealthCare legislation (likely single payer), that will reduce the costs of healthcare for all Americans, while ensuring quality care for all. That will save money and create real equality.
Reducing the endless spending on the military, while investing in dialogue, diplomacy and respecting all nations. That common sense element will give us the money to protect our environment, here and abroad.
Finally, we must remove the control of Congress from complete Republican control.
More than anything we must understand the urgency of saving our environment and the strong need to end all the noise and distraction that is the toxic nature of this President and Congress.
We may not get it all, but my hope is that Senator Heinrich and the Democrats in Congress are prepared to be BOLD. It begins with a real vision and the strength to carry it forward.
If we do not act soon, it will simply be too late for this planet. We have no choice, we must be BOLD.