Monday, November 14, 2016

Environmental Policy Post 2016 Elections

This past week has been one of concern for many - particularly in the climate and public lands policy arena. It is hard to know where to go in the fight against climate change when the new leader of our country believes it is a hoax. The science is clear and the world’s climate is warming. This is not a time for fewer environmental regulations or a focus on fossil fuel development that contributes greenhouse gas emissions, making the target of keeping global temperatures from warming to 3.6˚F a challenge.

Although the presidential election has left many with concerns there were several encouraging newly and re-elected officials to local, state and federal positions. There were 5 women in different states that made history by being elected to public office. These inspiring women all support measures such as women’s rights and have a focus on supporting communities who have historically been marginalized.

Across western states, we saw positive election results with candidates who support climate and public lands protections. For Colorado we saw eleven out of fourteen Conservation Colorado endorsed State Senate wins, and 36 out of 38 endorsed State House of Representative wins. These folks have been endorsed by Conservation Colorado because they have shown significant dedication to environmental conservation and support of public lands.  For my neck of the woods, Gunnison House District 59 is now represented by  Rep. Barbara McLachlan. She is a huge proponent of clean energy development and supporter of public lands. Moving forward many battles can be fought at the local level, and will need to be. With these elected officials in office we in Colorado have an obligation to stand with them to keep fighting for our climate.

Catherine Cortez-Masto, mentioned above in the 5 women who made history, was elected to U.S. Senate for the state of Nevada and has been endorsed as a climate champion by The Sierra Club. The state of Washington also elected four Sierra Club endorsed U.S. House of Representative candidates and endorsed U.S. Senator Patty Murray. These government officials across the West and the nation need support as they lead our country toward regulations that protect and restore our climate.

Of utmost importance, we must urge the new administration  to not pull out of the Paris Climate agreement, and to continue taking steps to meet international and national climate goals. We must continue the progress toward renewable energies. In fact, the BLM just finalized a rule that would increase the ease of development of wind and solar on public lands. This sector of our economy is growing and this continues to  be a bipartisan issue that is good for all Americans and environments.

Climate change is upon us. As the Mountain Pact continues work in this new political era, the goal remains the same -- to build alliances and empower mountain communities to build resilience in the face of economic and environmental stresses through federal climate and conservation policy. The organization will continue to keep a close eye on issues of   climate adaptation and mitigation;  disaster funding for increased extreme weather events; and  ensuring public lands stay in public hands to name a few.

This work is more important now more than ever.

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