Greetings. I am Pete Morton, Director of Economic research at The Wilderness Society.
For over 25 years the ecologists, landscape scientists, economists and lawyers in The Wilderness Society’s research department have generated scientific information to better inform the debate over public land management. I have worked at The Wilderness Society for over a dozen years and during that time I have published reports, penned many an op-ed and letter to the editor, testified before Congress, and have written more technical comments on Environmental Impact Statements than I care to remember. But I have never blogged – nor do I spend much time in the blogosphere; as I prefer to spend my time in the biosphere – primarily hiking, climbing and skiing in the glorious backcountry of Colorado. But the times they are a changing and in order to keep up with my young and talented nieces, I too will blog.
I hope to use my knowledge and experience to provide useful commentary on the environment, the economy and western public land issues.
The starting point of my first blog entry is a recent Gallup poll that suggests when given a choice, a majority of Americans would choose economic growth over environmental protection. To lobbyists and politicians who may use these results to suggest a decline in support for the environment, other polls have consistently shown strong public support for protecting the environment.
With respect to the Gallup poll, I think one factor contributing to the disappointing poll results is the half truths constantly bombarded on the public by a well financed network of industry lobbyists and talking heads. For example, according to these “experts” we can only create jobs if we cut environmental (and labor) regulations. I believe this is a false choice.
We do not have to choose jobs over the environment.
Environmental protection goes hand in hand with sustainable economic development. And there is absolutely no reason in this day and age that American citizens cannot have both a healthy environment and a job.
In order to combat the current misleading information being spread across the West by lobbyists from the fossil fuel industries (e.g. oil, natural gas, and coal) and the unsubstantiated “truthiness” typified by recent congressional hearings, I am using my first blog to announce a new series of Wilderness Society fact sheets about Western public land issues.
In the spirit of using research, facts and our passion to protect the wild landscapes of the western United States – and as fans of John Wayne and more recently “The Dude” – we are calling the series True Grit.
Our True Grit aim is to inform the dialogue about our western lands by presenting relevant facts backed up with supporting data, graphs and figures. In order to help elevate the debate, we will also be raising important economic, policy and legal questions – questions in need of answers in order to move the debate forward.
Our first in the True Grit series is called Overwhelmed with Opportunity and examines the false claims about access to public resources made by lobbyists for the oil and natural gas industry.