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Earth Day Highlights Practical Environmentalism

July 15, 2009
Op-Ed and Speech
In recognition of Earth Day, millions across the nation are applying a special sense of environmental awareness to their daily routine. Some may reconsider joining the carpool, opt for public transportation and many will likely dedicate extra effort to energy conservation by reducing their overall energy consumption. Collectively, we each bear some responsibility to maintain or improve the health of the environment. Though, personal initiative should not be confused with alarmist environmental activism. These two, clearly different, approaches to addressing the very complex subject of environmentalism are the center of much debate. I have found that environmental extremism often overshadows practical personal choice, and radical and misleading propaganda often overshadows factual proven statistics.

I, like most members of congress was recently the subject of an evaluation done by radical environmentalists who produce score cards using a formula set to deliver a predetermined set of results. It was with great pride that I, like so many others, did not live up to their expectations. However, the fact that I do not support radical environmentalist principals does not make me "anti-environment."

I am in fact a staunch proponent of a healthy environment and believe that we can provide environmental stewardship while still granting the American people with access to our land and resources. Ingenuity and inventive individuals working together to apply practical environmental practices has proven far more effective than regulation born out of extremist fear of impending apocalyptic doom. In fact, according to the Pacific Research Institute's 2008 Index of Leading Environmental Indicators, "Environmental improvement over the past decade has been substantial and dramatic."

The good news is that we are actually increasing our environmental values and improving the quality of our environment. The bad news is that extreme environmentalism continues to disrupt our ability to enact practical and proactive policies that will provide real solutions to many of our nation's needs, such as energy independence. Regulations and limitations placed on energy production and development will continue to hinder our ability to every reach these goals unless we empower the American people with the resources needed to deliver results. This cannot be done with a "lock it up and take it away" mentality.

When radicalism trumps practicality, I believe we lose sight of the real problems, and subsequently, the best ways to address them. It has been my experience that we are collectively more responsive as a country when empowered by choice, rather than the radical fear of failure. Refusing to buy into the fear does not make you anti-environment.

There is broad consensus across the board that we must be more efficient and independent- promoting conservation as a key component of our ability to protect the environment. Contrary to alarmist rhetoric, our country is actually quite capable of continuing its successful conservation efforts without strapping the American people with new and costly regulations.

As long as the unsubstantiated ideas that we as are collectively incapable of being responsible environmental stewards of our land, we will fail to address the needs of this country and remained bogged down by radical regulations and policies.

As a westerner, I am uniquely aware of the great potential that exists within alternative energy development. Unfortunately, XX environmental regulations continue to prevent the development and production of our renewable resources-- leaving us light years away from achieving viable energy solutions for future generations.

Taking action to address our country's needs is a responsibility we all share, and can be accomplished through proactive and responsible policies free of radical rhetoric. Today, many of us will make a special and concerted effort to be good stewards of our land and resources, not because we fear being labeled "anti-environment," but because we have adopted practical environmental values through person choice.