As the hot muggy days of summer descend upon our great nation’s capital, I find my mind wandering back to a little cabin in the woods of Maine. The place was nothing fancy; it was a real sweep-the-leaves-off-out-from-the corners kind of deal. But I’d be hard pressed to find better summertime memories than running wild under the cool pine trees and the way the chilly lake took my breath away every time I went crashing into its waters.
Following eight years of unbalanced, exploitative policies toward wildlands, the opening days of President Barack Obama’s administration appear to be a promising start in a new era of wildlands and wildlife protection.
In his first 100 days, President Obama reversed or put on hold a number of misguided Bush administration policies, signaling a more balanced use of public lands. He also put muscle behind campaign promises to reinstate science in federal decision making and to advance a clean energy future.
Star power can certainly help raise awareness of a critical issue. Like it or not, human beings are social animals and few among us are immune to the bit of a thrill that comes with rubbing elbows with celebrities. Even members of Congress get caught up in the excitement.
Conservation organizations like ours love to ask supporters to contact their congressmen to vote yes on all kinds of bills. But, the truth is that a lot of federal legislation doesn’t easily fire people up.
We’ve got a bill for you that does just that and it’s about, well, wildfires. We need your help to get Congress to pass this bill. The House is scheduled to vote Wednesday, March 25.
We’re losing 6,000 acres of open space per day — the equivalent of two Rhode Islands per year — and you can almost feel the Earth’s thermostat inching up a fraction each day. If we want to have any hope of slowing, let alone reversing, these trends, our country needs to take bold action. Perhaps bolder than we’ve ever attempted. Big problems clearly require serious solutions.
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.
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.