Sunday, April 22, 2012

Happy Earth Day


Today Disney is releasing Chimpanzee, Earth Day. Yesterday we asked some of the Blue America candidates to tell us what Earth Day means to them. Let me pick that up with a short post from Ken Aden, who's running in a pretty red-leaning district in northwest Arkansas.
"As a Renewable Energy Technology Major I understand how important it is that we work together to find a common sense solution to the energy problems that plague us today. Having served in various conflicts overseas, I am firm in my belief that if we invested more in modern technologies such as geothermal energy and solar panel manufacturing then we would not have the majority of the national security problems that we do. Looking back on my military service I can't count the number of times where oil took the main stage front and center and was the sole focus and or concern. We as a country have gone backwards in our thinking. We are technologically advanced, we have a brilliant pool of minds and leading engineers yet we seem focused on only finding that next spot to drill, that next pocket of oil to extract. For me, Earth Day is an opportunity to discuss these ideas and present them in a way that is easy to understand and easy to visualize. Renewable Energy is a main campaign focus of ours in Arkansas because we know that the NW corner of our state is uniquely situated to become a leader in this field, and pave the way for other states to follow. As our next progressive member of Congress, I will work to increase tax credits for businesses that develop renewable energy technologies. I will also make sure that those tax credits aren’t just for Fortune 500 companies because I truly believe that Main Street can and should play as big of a role in helping America achieve energy independence as Wall Street. I will continue to work with local governments in the 3rd District to help attract green energy companies to our area, not only in terms of manufacturing but in terms of power generation as well. Earth Day is great time for us to pause in reflection on what we're doing right, what we need to do better and how we can make our planet not only livable but viable for future generations.

Like Ken, Rob Zerban, the progressive Democrat running against Paul Ryan, whose budget proposal is astoundingly backward on the conservation and environmental fronts, has also devoted a lot of time and energy on ecology in his life. "Environmental stewardship," he told us, "is how I started my public service. I understand that we have but one world, one planet, to call home. With that comes an awesome responsibility to make sure we leave it better for our children. Congress has been sorely lacking in leaders who understand the delicate balance that protecting our environment plays in everything else we seek to do-- from creating jobs to creating memories with our families. I'm proud to follow in the footsteps of the great Wisconsin environmental leaders like John Muir, Aldo Leopold and Gaylord Nelson and I look forward to preserving their great legacy in Congress."  

Not far south and a bit west of Rob's Wisconsin district, we come to the heart of the Prairie State, IL-13, where progressive David Gill is favored to win a seat being vacated by Tim Johnson. Dr. Gill also takes the idea of environmental stewardship very seriously.
To me, there is no more important issue than restoring the health of our planet. I am a man of science, and sadly, the science of Global Climate Change is all too clear: Global Climate Change is very, very real and it's very, very threatening. And it is clearly a result of mankind's dependence upon fossil fuels. It's tragic that we allow politics to enter into this at all, and that we allow the discussion to be muddied by politicians who are bought and owned by oil companies.

The midnight hour is upon us with respect to irreversible climate change-- immediate aggressive action must be taken, or our Earth will be a dramatically different place in 50 years, in 80 years, in 100 years. As our children's children struggle to find clean water to drink and clean air to breathe, they will look back at the irresponsible "leaders" of our generation and shake their heads in disgust and sorrow. Every other issue facing us will be all but moot when our Earth becomes largely uninhabitable by our descendents.

Darcy Burner is running in a new Washington district that starts in the Seattle suburbs and goes clear up to the Canadian border. Even Republicans in this part of the country appreciate Nature. "Forty-two years ago," Darcy recalled for us, "my friend Denis Hayes organized the first Earth Day and changed the way Americans think about our planet. Now we face a climate crisis of unprecedented proportions. But just as we were up to the challenges half a century ago, we are up to these challenges. Here in Washington State, we’ve been creating the next generation of clean energy technologies which will replace the dirty, polluting fossil fuels of the 19th Century. As we celebrate Earth Day, I hope that you all will join me in taking on our challenges both through our public actions and our private choices."

Chris Donovan is the Speaker of Connecticut's House and the battle for a clean environment and a sustainable earth is something he's been dealing with inside his state legislature. He recalls that "One of my first organizing campaigns at the Connecticut Citizens' Action Group (CCAG) was an environmental justice campaign to protect aquifers, ban the land-filling of toxic waste, and to enact a "right to know" statute so that families and workers would know what toxic waste products existed in their workplaces and communities. That campaign was ultimately successful and stuck with me through my time in the legislature, that we could successfully organize to protect our communities from toxic waste, and to protect our environment for our children and grandchildren. I took that lesson into the successful fights to clean up Connecticut's "Sooty Six" power plants and to remediate brownfield sites. Our stewardship of the environment is the most important legacy we can leave to the next generation. Earth Day is a symbol of that stewardship, and of our responsibility, and our goal must be to have a cleaner environment with less reliance on fossil fuels, in order to create a cleaner, more sustainable world."

Eric Griego, represents parts of Albuquerque in the New Mexico state legislature, where he's been a leader on behalf of the values inherent in Earth Day. This morning he told us that he "believes we need more leaders in Congress to fight for bold investments to make America the world leader in the new energy economy and support science to combat global climate change. I will continue building on my consistent record of championing clean energy, conservation and smart growth."

Joe Miklosi has been fighting this battle in the Colorado legislature and he's going up against virulent Climate Change-denier Mike Coffman in November. He has a very pragmatic approach to the problem-- one that has been a winning approach in Colorado where everyone loves the natural beauty, even many Republicans. Joe:
Earth Day is unique benchmark in time for the environmental movement. 42 years ago the first Earth Day Celebration led to the passage of the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. Thanks to those initiatives, the days when smog choked our cities are over, our water is safer and cleaner, and our communities are more livable and prosperous.

Earth Day is a special reminder that we can grow our economy-- and even spur new American industries, while respecting our environment and national resources. Waves of American ingenuity have been unleashed and new products are been developed for environmentally conscious consumers around the globe.

Opponents of environmental standards have made the same hollow claims for 40 years about the potential loss of jobs. For 42 years they have been wrong and they continue to make these false arguments today. Responsible stewardship actually has created jobs, industries, and cottage industries while making our communities cleaner and more livable. 

In Colorado, our environment is vital to the economy. Earth Day is a reminder that by working together we can make a measurable and lasting difference.

Ann Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter are the two exemplary Blue-America-backed progressives running for Congress in New Hampshire. Both are friends of the earth, in the truest sense of the term. Carol Shea-Porter
I was in high school when the first Earth Day was held, but I was already an environmentalist. My Republican family had taught me to respect nature. My dad had been in the Navy, and he would take garbage out of the water and talk to us about our responsibility to be good stewards on land and sea, but he and his generation did not realize the extent of our problems in the years before Earth Day. Everything came into sharper focus after the first Earth Day, and the battle began to save our planet. Sadly, climate change denial has held us back from treating this effort like the Apollo project, and we have wasted time arguing. In New Hampshire, there was always a bipartisan effort to protect natural resources until recently. Democrats and Republicans worked together to protect our shores, our mountains, and our way of life. Tourism is a huge part of our economy, and we all have a vested interest in preserving our natural resources. But now, the tea party runs NH and they are voting to undo legislation. In Washington, tea partier Congressman Frank Guinta has tried to strip the EPA of its authority to regulate polluters, and his anti-environment votes have earned him an "F" from The Sierra Club. His money comes from the Koch Brothers, oil companies, and others, and he serves their interests instead of the public interest. Granite Staters will change that in November, and I will go back to the Natural Resources Committee and serve the public interest again.

And, we hope, so will Ann Kuster:
Earth Day is significant because it shows the power of an idea to change social behavior. I remember the first Earth Day and when our science class went out to pick up trash on the side of the roads. At that point in time, throwing trash out your car window was normal practice and our highways and byways were cluttered with it. Litter was not a word in our vocabulary. In 42 years we have come a long way. Looking back, what seemed trivial in Junior High School has impacted our lives in incredible ways. Protecting our environment and the health of our people not only improves the quality of life in New Hampshire but also keeps our economy strong.

But we need to stay vigilant. From the New Hampshire State House to the United States Congress, our far right leaders are eroding our environmental protections. I am running for Congress to protect the quality of life of New Hampshire families and the quality of our environment couldn't be more important. Unless we stand up and fight back the attacks on our clean air, clean water and all the rest, we will be passing on a country that has worse quality of life and worse health outcomes for our children and grandchildren. On this Earth Day, lets redouble our collective efforts to do our part for a clean planet.

Lee Rogers, who's running against a classic GOP Nature-hater and environmental destruction machine, Buck McKeon, is a doctor and a father of two young daughters. Like many parents, he looks at the idea of the stewardship of earth's resources through a very special lens. "This weekend," he told us, "I watched Dr. Suess's The Lorax with my 3 year old daughter, Emma. I was amazed to see how quickly she 'got it.' She told me, 'if you chop the trees down, you will be sad.' The problem with Earth Day is that it's only a single day. We need this level of attention to our environment everyday. There are things we all can do to protect our environment; don't litter, recycle, use public transportation, read e-books, drive a more efficient car, and use water and energy saving technology at home. But perhaps the most important thing you can do for the environment is support candidates and legislators who will respect our planet. The uninformed and the science deniers in Congress pose the biggest threat to the health of our world. By being active and informed, we can avoid living in a real version of Thneedville."

You can find all the Blue America candidates on the same page about protecting the air and the water and our stewardship of the environment-- as well as on the same page for much needed campaign contributions.

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