Jamie Rappaport Clark, President & CEO
The shutdown has definitely caused a multitude of urgent problems that need to be addressed. From finding the doors at your favorite museum locked, to the loss of badly-needed services for children and seniors, the shutdown affects nearly everyone. Thousands of people are out of work, national parks, refuges and forests have shut their gates, harming local economies that depend on income from tourism and recreation, and our public lands and wildlife are no longer
being monitored and managed at anywhere near the needed capacity.
But the long-term consequences that energy and environment issues face are ones of further delays in badly needed progress. Putting off the development of important policies and strategies will have long-lasting impacts for a variety of natural resource concerns:
- Climate policy: The EPA just released its unprecedented proposal for controlling emissions from new coal-powered plants– and now that proposal is stuck in limbo. And natural resource agencies have halted critical work to help wildlife and habitat adapt to climate change.
- Endangered species: Needed conservation work for vulnerable candidate species awaiting protection, such as the lesser prairie chicken and Gunnison sage-grouse, is not getting done. Recovery actions for the more than 1400 threatened and endangered species such as Florida panthers, Canada lynx, ocelots and manatees have been put on hold. Each day of the shutdown pushes back their opportunity to get the protection and recovery support they need.
- Management improvements: the management needs of our natural resources grow and change each year. But a prolonged shutdown would backlog the information our land and wildlife managers need to collect to develop new, more effective strategies for flood, fire and invasive species control and more. For example, a comprehensive and unprecedented planning process to conserve the Greater sage-grouse throughout the American West is in limbo.
The shutdown has further undermined the natural resource agencies already laboring under the burden of sequestration cuts, and could have even longer-lasting consequences for our nation’s wildlife and its habitat. The sooner we can end this shutdown, the sooner we can return to improving the stewardship of our natural heritage.
Originally published in The National Journal