I enjoyed the hour I spent on the Diane Rehm Show today, and the best part was the wide-spread support for conservation from people who called in from across the country. Once again, it’s clear that the American people love their wild places and want to see them protected.
If there was one unfortunate element of the discussion today with the Western Energy Alliance (Kathleen Sgamma), a reporter from the National Journal (Coral Davenport) and the deputy secretary of the Interior department (David Hayes), it was the idea that the energy industry has to be pitted against environmentalists. The lands owned by the American people should be used for multiple purposes and one of them needs to be for energy development. But this comes at a time when the oil and gas industry is sitting on more than half of the 40 more million acres the Bureau of Land Management has said they can develop. So they don’t need any more of our land. Instead we need a balanced approach that makes conservation -- not just energy development -- a priority.
This would mean that we conserve more of the land that protects our supplies of clean drinking water since 60 percent of the country depends on our wild lands for their water sources. It would mean more open spaces for people to hike, fish, watch birds, hunt or just unwind. And it would mean we protect more habitat for wildlife. Everyone has a special place they love, a place they remember fondly from their childhood or that they enjoy with their loved ones today. Conserving those places helps strike the balance we fight for at The Wilderness Society every day – one that recognizes the connection between the human community and the natural community.
The attacks coming from the likes of Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) are leading this latest attack on our open spaces. They seek to remove protection for some 60 million acres of our pristine lands. They say the mere five percent of America’s land that is protected is too much. We say that is clearly not enough. That’s a message I was proud to share on The Diane Rehm Show today, and that we’ll continue to echo going forward.