We’re just over a week away from an historic U.S. Election. There have been 3 different Presidential debates, one Vice Presidential debate, party conventions, and myriad campaign stump speeches run seemingly ad nauseum on cable news networks.
Yet, amidst all the talk about the economy, government spending, Obamacare and foreign policy, there have been shockingly few mentions of the global environmental crisis. Climate change, the increasing frequency of natural disasters, melting Arctic sea ice (which leads to rising oceans), and an unsustainable reliance on fossil fuels have given the vast majority of the world’s scientists cause to sound the alarm that the canaries in the coal mine are dying. So why aren’t these worrisome developments a more significant part of America’s conversation about our nation’s future?
Although the Ryan/Romney camp has revealed few details of their plan for America, the candidates’ voting records and policy positions suggest a GOP win would be disastrous for environmental causes. In a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference, Republican Rep. Steve Pearce (NM) insisted that, if elected, Mitt Romney will turn control over public lands back to the states or private entities. “Constitutionally,” Pearce told ThinkProgress, decisions about drilling in national parks and other public-owned lands “should be left with the states.”
Here are 5 Reasons the Paul Ryan/Mitt Romney Administration would be very bad for America’s environmental future:
1) They’d Make Energy Development A State, Rather Than Federal, Decision- In August 2012, Romney’s energy plan suggested giving all decisions regarding energy development on public lands to the states. Given Romney/Ryan’s historical support of fossil fuels over clean energy, this will almost certainly mean more drilling and mining because, as The New York Times wrote, “States, as a rule, tend to be interested mainly in resource development.” Ultimately, individual states would be able to make the call on, say, drilling for gas near Arches National Park, or uranium mining around the Grand Canyon.
2) They’d Allow (Perhaps ENCOURAGE) Reckless Development in Fragile Ecosystems- Paul Ryan has always voted in favor of the exploitation of our nation’s natural resources. In 2001 he voted against a bill that would prevent the Bush Administration from issuing new leases for oil drilling and mining in national monuments. He voted four times (2001, 2003, 2005, 2006) to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And he voted for a 2006 bill that repealed environmental laws protecting our national forests and cut the American public out of decisions to prevent unsustainable logging practices. Clearly, Ryan prefers profit over preservation.
3) They Owe Major Debts to the Fossil Fuel Industry- A casual look at Romney/Ryan’s list of donors and advisers reveals a long line of rich folks deeply invested in fossil fuels. Romney’s top energy adviser, Harold Hamm, owns Continental Resources Inc., which drills on public lands in Montana and North Dakota. Bill Koch, who donated over $2 million to the GOP super PAC Restore Our Future and millions to other conservative groups, owns a company that operates a coal mine on public land in Colorado. And Ryan has voted yes on bills to allow copper mining on U.S. Forest Service lands, and co-sponsored a bill to develop oil shale (one of the planet’s dirtiest fuels) on public lands.
4) They’re Against Federal Funding For Public Lands- Romney and Ryan have both repeatedly voted against funding for National Parks. Ryan’s latest budget would slash those allocations an additional 14.8%, cutting $380 million (and over 70,000 jobs) starting in 2014 and forcing hundreds of parks to shut down for part of the year. It would also cut funding to national forests by up to $678 million a year starting in 2014, threatening programs designed to fight wildfires, provide clean drinking water and support recreational hunting and fishing.
5) They Would Sell Off Public Lands- Many GOP faithful, particularly those from Western states, believe that the federal government simply owns too much land. But the official Republican Party platform approved at their recent national convention in Tampa says that, “Congress should reconsider whether parts of the federal government’s enormous landholdings and control of water in the West could be better used for ranching, mining, or forestry through private ownership.” Ryan’s latest budget suggests selling off millions of acres of public lands in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming.
We here at Green Global Travel understand the economic crisis that’s going on in America, and all around the world. But we also believe that any economic policy rooted in the exploitation of our precious natural resources in a profit-driven quest for fossil fuels is both short-sighted and unsustainable. We urge anyone concerned with the future of our nation’s National Parks to consider these facts when casting their vote on Nov 6. –Bret Love
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