Tonight the President was right to focus on renewable energy as a proven job creator which cuts down on greenhouse gases – two things that improve the health of our economy overall. Our public lands play a central role in transitioning away from fossil fuels because of their enormous potential to provide large scale renewable energy. We should be focusing our energy policy on promoting those new energy sources, guiding them to places they will have the smallest impact on land, wildlife and water resources, and making sure unavoidable impacts are offset with real conservation gains. Further improving energy efficiency will allow us do more with the energy we already produce, helping reduce the pressure to commit new land to energy development so our wildest places can be enjoyed by generations of Americans to come.
America’s wild places are on the front lines for combating climate change in so many ways, including acting as a sponge that captures carbon and slows global warming. But the deep cuts to the budgets of agencies like the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service threaten the ability of these places to remain healthy, vibrant and accessible.
These lands are also the backbone of outdoor recreation industry that supports more than 6 million jobs and creates $646 billion in economic activity. Moving forward from tonight’s address, the President and Congress must avoid drastic cuts to parks and wildlife refuges that would only hold back the economic recovery and disproportionately hit rural areas.