Now that the post-election reverie is dying down, it’s time to remind the president why he got our votes and what we expect from him in return. Several environmental groups have spelled out some of the issues and concerns we all have. The following reports are from three whose newsletters I’m subscribed to, and whose websites are worth visiting…
…First, from Defenders of Wildlife: http://www.defenders.org/
“We congratulate President Obama on his victory and look forward to working with him and his administration in the coming months and years. With the el ection now behind us, President Obama and the new Congress must find a balanced way to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff. This budgetary gridlock is threatening to unleash a series of devastating budget cuts that will slash funding for wildlife conservation to the bone.
The harsh reality is this: If Congress doesn’t get its act together and pass a budget before December 31, a cascade of crippling budget cuts will automatically sweep through all federal programs. The effect on wildlife will be devastating.
•The listing and recovery of endangered species will be severely curtailed.
•Urgent research on threats to endangered animals — like the white-nose syndrome that is wiping out entire colonies of bats — could be abandoned.
•Wildlife law enforcement reductions will leave wildlife refuges vulnerable to criminal activity and will decimate anti-wildlife poaching and smuggling enforcement operations.
•Many national wildlife refuges, forests and parks will be closed entirely — harming local economies that benefit from millions of visitors each year.
•Many public lands’ visitor centers will close, resulting in loss of education and recreation programs that benefit outdoor enthusiasts and children.
•Important protections for migratory birds will go unenforced.
Tell your representatives in Congress to do their job, and maintain needed protections for wildlife and their habitats. When Congress returns next week, they must act to stop this budget disaster. Tell them they must come to an agreement that will not harm crucial wildlife conservation programs.”
Wildlife lovers like you and me have a busy and challenging year ahead.
… Meanwhile, from the executive director at WildEarth Guardians: http://www.wildearthguardians.org/site/PageServer asks of the president…
“While you savor your victory and contemplate your vision for the next four years, I’d like to share my vision of how to create a brighter future for our environment and our people.
•Create a new, clean energy economy . We need a carbon tax whose basis is both moral and economic; fossil fuels are killing the planet and Sandy’s wrath is just the latest example that the climate crisis is upon us. While it’s true that Americans want energy independence, it’s also true that the continued use of fossil fuels is endangering other core freedoms like a clean, safe environment. That’s unacceptable.
•Safeguard America’s endangered species. Whether gray wolves, sperm whales or tiger beetles—all species have a right to exist. It’s our moral and ethical imperative to protect imperiled species, as is beautifully articulated in the Endangered Species Act. We must defend and strengthen the Act to ensure that future generations inherit an earth as beautiful and diverse as the one we enjoy today.
•Protect our wetlands and rivers. Aquatic ecosystems are vital, now more than ever, and the Clean Water Act is a cornerstone of protecting these vital arteries of life. In a warming, overpopulated world it is critical that we do more to ensure that rivers have secure flows and that wetlands are protected as filters to pollution and buffers to intense weather events.
•Defend our last wild public lands. One of the most enduring and unique aspects of America’s natural heritage is simply that we still have wild country left. That’s because we have public lands that keep these places wild. Places like the Greater Gila in New Mexico and Arizona, the Roan Plateau in Colorado and the Red Rock canyon country of Utah. We want you to not only defend the ideal of public lands, but also use your authority under the Antiquities Act to protect these last wild places.”
…and from the NRDC: http://www.nrdc.org/ …
“American voters not only re-elected a president who made green jobs a cornerstone of his first term and his campaign, they also rejected some of the shrillest champions of Big Oil and Big Coal in key Senate races from Massachusetts to Ohio, from Virginia to New Mexico.We should be heartened that the fossil fuel lobby could throw $270 million at so many candidates hawking “drill, baby, drill” and climate denial — and get so little back on their investment.
Apparently, democracy lives … as does common sense. Voters roundly rejected an extremist agenda that says protecting polluter profits is job one, while the rest of us pay the price in illness, poisoned ecosystems and apocalyptic weather. That last point was hardly academic this Election Day, as millions in the Northeast are still struggling to recover some shred of normalcy after Hurricane Sandy.
Today, we are calling on President Obama to confront the urgent threat of global warming by reining in carbon polluters and dramatically boosting the role of renewable energy in American life. That is our very best hope for breaking Big Oil’s stranglehold on both our economy and our climate.
Toward that end, we’ll work closely with the second Obama Administration to build on great progress already made in so many sectors — like the new clean car standards we championed that will double the fuel economy of the average vehicle on the road. But we’ll also be watchdogging the administration to ensure it does the right thing: that the EPA proposes carbon limits for existing power plants … that the State Department delivers on its promise of a complete and independent review of the climate-wrecking Keystone XL tar sands pipeline … that the BLM cracks down on dangerous fracking.
Of course, NRDC always stands for the environment, not for any party or elected official. So if the Obama Administration strays from its avowed commitment to the environment, then we will hold their feet to the fire — in court — just as we’ve done with every other president over the past forty years. As you read this, we are suing the administration to save the Polar Bear Seas from Shell’s reckless plans for drilling in the Arctic … and to safeguard the very last 284 beluga whales in Alaska’s Cook Inlet from oil exploration.
Simply put, we will do everything in our power to help President Obama deliver on his goals of clean energy and environmental protection. But NRDC will hold him accountable — for our planet’s sake — if and when he falls short. As for Congress, it is time for the House Republican leadership and Tea Party members to face reality: the American people are in no mood for more ideological intransigence. By rejecting Big Oil’s candidates, voters sent a message loud and clear that they want more clean energy, less climate denial and an end to the $4 billion in taxpayer subsidies for fossil fuels. Those are the priorities NRDC will be putting front and center when the lame duck session of Congress begins next week.”
…No doubt we’ll have to continue to repeatedly remind our politicians that though the animals don’t vote, we can and will continue to vote for them and for the natural habitats they call home.
Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2012. All Rights Reserved