Monday, November 10, 2008
The End of Euphoria
On November 4, 2008 the world witnessed a great day in history. Barack Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States. In a victory that can only be described as a landslide, the nation's first African-American head of state elect ushers in a new era that finally fulfills the promise of the American dream. In the collective voice of citizens casting ballots in record numbers, the people of this country have set aside old notions of race and ethnicity to elect a leader without the pedigree of a privileged few. But rather these citizens have chosen one of their own, a man who has made his way from the least enfranchised corners of our society. Through his depth of character and the heights of his aspirations President elect Obama has demonstrated once and for all that the United States of America is indeed a great land of opportunity where anyone can achieve their dreams.
But now at the end of a bitter election the nation must be quick to cast aside the giddy euphoria of this great accomplishment. As we celebrate having passed this milestone in our history we must sober our thinking to realize that we are still a country in crisis. The so-called war on terror still rages with American soldiers fighting on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our economy is in shambles, teetering on the brink of collapse. Tens of millions of our citizens lack even basic health care. And the natural environment, which sustains our human lives is in peril of irreparable harm.
So it's important for the American people to realize that there is much work to do in the coming months and years as we rebuild our nation. And as a new administration prepares its platform to lead we must also realize that the damage inflicted in recent years continues and will go on right up to the day President elect Obama is inaugurated.
In a report issued by the elect committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, Massachusetts Congressman and chairman Edward Markey laid out the details of what the American people can expect in the weeks to come. Entitled Past Is Prologue: The Bush Administration's Last 100 days Markey brings to light several efforts to deregulate environmental policies that protect air, land and water throughout the United States.
The Environmental Protection Agency aims to lower emission standards for power plants and other facilities that emit pollutants adjacent to national parks. By changing the emission standards the EPA is giving a green light to the construction of new plants near Class-1 environmentally protected sites.
In a similar policy shift the EPA will also loosen restrictions on requirements to plug leaks in pipeline fittings at petroleum refineries. Called fugitive emissions these pipe leaks will continue uncheck adding to the pollution of nearby communities and the natural areas that surround them.
The Department of the Interior has plans to make major changes to the Endangered Species Act. Allowing only 10 days for public comment the DOI will attempt to have expert scientific review taken out of the species selection process and exempt the impact of climate change as a cause of habitat recession.
Despite the historic events of the previous week America is not out the woods, not by a long shot. In fact we are only just embarking upon a very long journey toward the fulfillment of our nation's potential to be a force of good for the planet and future generations. Fortunately as president Obama can act to reverse many of these 11th hour policy changes enacted by the outgoing Bush Administration. But that will take time and will distract from other more pressing issues. As citizens it will be our responsibility to be informed and to speak out whenever the interest of a few subvert the needs of the many. And as environmental policy will likely run a distant 4th behind the economy, national security and health care in the early days of the Obama Administration we must remain vigilant to acts of corporate greed and political expediency that threaten our precious natural resources of air, land and water.
The Oudoor Professional