Tuesday, November 6, 2012

No gloating ... Let's move forward

As I sit here on election night--the results long since in--skimming the myriad Facebook and Twitter feeds from friends, both liberal and conservative, I'm relieved at the results but troubled by the reactions from both parties. We are, indeed, a nation divided. The popular vote proves it--and, frankly, it has for a dozen years or so.

So, yeah, my guy won, and I'm happy about that. But I'm also of the mind that now, while we're at our most divided, we ought to make a conscious effort to reach out to our elected officials and ask them to reach across the aisle and get something productive done, if for no other reason than to show our children that, while we often disagree, being disagreeable doesn't have to be a biproduct of our politics.

And there's no better place to start than with issues facing our country's natural resources. Seeing as how neither side bothered to touch on the environment during the campaign, it would seem that this is an area where the two sides might be able to find some middle ground and move forward.

Let's start with a no-brainer. Whether you agree or not that mankind is the culprit, climate change is real. Sea ice is melting at a record pace; storms are more frequent and more violent; droughts are more severe and more costly, both economically culturally.

Let's address it, starting with actually following through on the notion of actually achieving that elusive energy independence. It's time we do more than just talk about it. It's time we talk about producing energy at home, but it's also time we recognize that the continued use of fossil fuels doesn't do much to alleviate what might be reversible when it comes to a changing global climate that--if allowed to spiral out of control--will be far more damaging economically than failing to sink one more oil well when we don't possess enough oil on American soil to make a dent in the amount we use. It means that, while natural gas is plentiful and relatively cheap, we can't continue to drill through our water tables and then act surprised when that water turns up polluted thanks to some proprietary cocktail that industry is allowed to inject into the ground to encourage the gas to come to the top. And lest we forget, it's still a fossil fuel that, when burned, emits greenhouse gases that very likely exacerbate climatic events.

That means we must take a long, hard look at renewable energy, and find ways to make it happen in a way that doesn't devalue the land it occupies. Thankfully, the framework for this is in place--a bill has been introduced in Congress to ensure wind and solar development come with a thorough review process and a conservation mitigation fund. And it would require the industry to pay royalties to the states and counties where these projects take place. More importantly, the bill allows for public involvement in the siting and permitting of renewable energy projects on lands that belong to every single American.

This is a bipartisan bill--it was introduced by Sen. Jim Risch, a Republican from Idaho, and Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat from Montana. Anglers and hunters who understand that habitat and opportunity are not mutually exclusive--and that good fishing and good hunting don't happen by accident--support this bill.

Is it an earth-shattering bill that will immediately change the political climate in our country? No. But it's a start. And after a divisive election, I'll settle for a start.

Join me and ask Congress to work together and pass a bill that's good for all Americans, not just the party by which they label themselves, or by the funders to which they are unfortunately beholden. Ask your state's federal delegation to join together and support the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act. We have the chance to do this right.

Who knows? Maybe it could be the catalyst for further cooperation... further compromise.

Or, you know, progress.


  1. I'm not gonna lie...I'm gloating a bit.

    I do agree that the partisan nonsense needs to stop and politics needs to be put aside. This country belongs to the people and the elected officials on both sides needs to remember that. Do what's best for the American people; not your campaign

  2. Good post. Of course, many issues are important to voters, and, like the subsistence farmer in Brazil, for example, it's hard to take the long view when daily life is a struggle. But environment would seem to trump almost every other concern. If the planet becomes relatively uninhabitable, if rising seas inundate our coasts, if species continue to disappear from the web of life, what do many of the other issues really matter?

    I am so glad to see another outdoorsman who is passionate about climate change. We can debate and debate the causes of global warming, but whatever the real cause(s) may be, we cannot afford to ignore the possible role of fossil fuels. The answer is not to "drill, baby, drill," but to "conserve, baby, conserve."

    So many who fish, and hunt, and hike, and camp, have bought into the whole conservative macho culture not stopping to think that a warming planet will make those pursuits more difficult, if not impossible. It is possible to be an outdoorman (or woman) and have moderate views, to enjoy hunting without neccesarily belonging to the NRA, to be a patriot without always wrapping oneself in the flag.

    There's such a tremendous amount of work to be done to counteract global warming. Hopefully we have not already passed the tipping point where our actions will be ineffective. I hope, but am not optomistic, that the deniers of climate change can critically reassess their views and join those of us who are passionate about the environment.

  3. The President won both the popular and electoral sides, what will he do with this? I see two choices; one, use the time to push the agenda he couldn't/wouldn't do in his first term: the environment, including renewable energy, and various issues the democratic base wanted him to include.
    Two: work on the issues where they were unable to do in the first term: budget and tax increases on wealthy, immigration reform, entitlement reform (ss, medicare), unemployment and the economy, and other issues that the GOP may feel forced to now compromise on.

    Starting probably this morning, he's going to be hearing from the leaders of the democratic party, trying to get him to concentrate on the second option. They and the GOP are already looking ahead 4 years, and the democratic party is going to pressure the President to concentrate on issues that they see the country will get behind in forcing the GOP House to compromise on.

    The only way the environment will take a high priority is if there his a big, grass-route movement. That's up to the American people to decide/realize that all the other issues are dependent on our environment being clean.

    I wish I thought that the environment would be a more central, important issue for the President.

  4. Good luck with this, Chris. Watch what GOP congressional leaders are saying today to get a sense of whether they are willing to participate in progress of any sort.

  5. Well said Chris. I am in an odd position on this whole thing in that I am (to a degree) conservative, but put a huge priority on our environment which has been pushed into a liberal catagory (even though it shouldn't be). I do think that you are 100% correct in your support of the Renewable Energy Development Act, and think that we are way behind on getting things like this in motion. I grew up in coal mine country and both of my Grandfathers toiled deep underground to support their families. I have seen first hand what the extraction of resources can do to both the health of the workers as well as the health of the land...neither are good. As smart and resourceful as we are here in this country, surely to God we could put things in motion to make things better.

    Though I did not vote for President Obama...I congratulate him on his victory, and hope that the next four years are great years for all of us.

    Excellent post.

  6. Thanks, all, for the comments, particularly to you, Marc. I think you and I are probably closer to the middle of the spectrum than we are to either side, and that's why I share your frustration about conservation issues being largely absent from the debates and the election in general.

    But that's also where the hope lies... not with the far-left, uber-liberal enviros or the far-right, Tea Party extremists--it lies with those of us in the middle who have the wherewithal and the energy to make a phone call, write a letter and engage our elected officials, regardless of party, in a grown-up discussion about the future of our nation's natural resources. Thanks again... I really appreciate the comments.

  7. Thanks for being a voice of reason Chris. Even though I didn't vote for your guy, I wish him the best of luck because there is nothing in it for any of us if he can't push us forward.

  8. Thanks Howard... you're spot-on ... as usual. Hope all is well on the Front Range... I might be down that way in December--if so, please let me buy you a beer (least I can do after that election)!

  9. I'm gloating like a motherfuck, and that's how it's going to be. And if it weren't for GOP gerrymandering, our guy would have had a Democratic house. Try to tell me a state elected Obama, a Dem senator but the state still chose 95% House Republicans? Pullllllleeeeeezzzzzzzeeeeee!