The Wilderness Society, Alaska Wilderness League, and Gwich’in Steering Committee today expressed disappointment in a bill introduced by Alaska Sens. Lisa Murkowski, (R), and Mark Begich, (D), that would allow so-called “directional” (or horizontal) drilling from state lands and waters adjacent to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in order to reach oil that might be found under the refuge’s coastal plain.
There’s an old saying about “death by a thousand cuts.” Those words could easily be used to describe how federal environmental programs fared during the eight long years of the Bush administration.
Throughout those years, in agency after agency, programs vital to the health of the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the well-being of our nation’s beloved forests, parks, and wildlife refuges were systematically bled of the money they needed to assure their survival.
Here are just a few of the many examples of the damage:
President Obama today released the broad outlines of his proposed budget for FY 2010, setting the stage for a detailed budget proposal to follow in April. Every indication is that this will be the best federal budget in years for America’s environment and public lands, and the first budget ever to assume revenues from a cap on carbon pollution and an auction of carbon credits.
Wilderness is nature in the raw — a place undeveloped, untrammeled and unspeakably beautiful. It's a place open and accessible to anyone — sportsmen, anglers, hikers, backpackers, equestrians, climbers and others — who are willing to venture out and survive, if even for a short while, at the mercy of their wits and the elements.
Photographer Dr. Nelson Guda recalls driving more than 5,000 miles around the American west in search of roadless areas as part of his latest project. Hiking through the remote wilderness with a pack and 15 pounds of camera gear was the easy part. It was finding these roadless areas that was half the battle.
When I arrived at The Wilderness Society in 1984, I did not know the name of our newest board member: Wallace Stegner. That’s a sad commentary on my expensive education. It also reflects the unfortunate fact that Stegner was often pigeon-holed as a “western writer.” I was a product of the East.
I quickly discovered how wonderfully he wrote and had a chance to spend a little time with him when he visited our office. I remember how crushed all of us were on that April day in 1993 when we heard that “Wally” had been in a fatal car crash in Santa Fe.
While a bright light has been focused on Congress’ recent efforts to pass the economic stimulus package, another critical financial debate is waiting in the wings on Capitol Hill — one that’s crucially important to sustaining clean air and water, lands, oceans, wildlife, and public health.
It’s official. After months of Congressional back-and-forth, the nation finally has an economic revitalization plan for its ailing economy.
We’re very pleased that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, signed by the President on Feb. 17, includes funding to create green jobs! However, there is still much work to do to ensure the money is used for jobs that help fight global warming by restoring the health of our wildlands.
Two studies put out within days of each other emphasize the importance of our public lands as habitat for wildlife. On Feb. 9, the National Geographic reported on a new study by the U.S. Forest Service that documents trees migrating northward. According to the National Geographic:
Growing up in a region many call flyover country, I am used to hearing about the “endless” drive endured to “get through” my home state of Kansas. But let’s leave the austere beauty of my home state up for debate and instead consider the potential of these remote places to generate energy.