Jamie Rappaport Clark, President and CEO
I congratulate the President on his victory and am excited to work with him and his administration in the coming months and years. There is a lot of work to do to protect our natural heritage for future generations and hopefully we can now collectively return our attention to meaningful progress on a whole host of issues.
First and foremost is the so-called fiscal cliff. Many programs will be hurt by the looming spending cuts, and conservation programs are no exception. Everything from national parks and forests to wildlife refuges and other public lands could be threatened. I am confident that the president shares our sense of urgency on this matter and will do all he can to find a balanced solution in the face of these potentially devastating cuts.
Once we address the fiscal cliff, we desperately need to tackle climate change. This is the most pressing issue in our country, and we cannot wait any longer. We need swift action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and new policies that will help humans and wildlife adapt to our rapidly changing environment.
We also need to seriously address the threat of wildlife extinction. The Endangered Species Act once served as a model for a world struggling with widespread extinction; now it suffers from inadequate enforcement, chronic underfunding and a hostile political environment. These things have to change before more species sink forever into the abyss of extinction. Most importantly, while the ESA has proven to be a highly effective bulwark against extinction, we need the Administration to accelerate the recovery of hundreds of species that are in urgent need of more focused conservation efforts.
Furthermore, the President should reaffirm his past promise to let science guide natural resource policy in his administration. Important conservation policy decisions need to be grounded in and guided by science, and not be driven by what is politically expedient. That should be something we all agree upon.
Lastly, the President should continue his push to wean our country off outdated, dirty energy sources like oil, gas and coal, and focus on 21st century clean energy solutions. But we need to make sure we do this in a smart way that doesn’t destroy important wildlife or habitat resources.
There is so much work to be done to protect and restore our air, land, water and wildlife for future generations. The president has run his last campaign, and it is our hope that, freed from the bonds of politics, he will be a real conservation leader as we strive to protect our natural heritage. At Defenders, we stand ready to work with him as we face the challenges ahead.