Make a Call for Environmental Priorities in the New Congress

It’s been a week since the mid-term elections, and I haven’t said a word about them. Am I excited? Definitely — stayed up way past my bed time on Election Night so I could hear Claire McCaskill declare victory in Missouri’s Senate race (OK, I also wanted to hear Jim Talent concede…). I’m glad Richard Pombo is out of the House, and that James Inhofe will turn over the chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to Barbara Boxer. I’m definitely pleased to see headlines like this one, and news like this:

Democrats will focus on cutting pollution blamed for global warming, accelerating toxic-waste cleanups, reversing Bush administration tax and regulatory breaks for energy producers and switching the government’s course back to strict protecting endangered species.

Their environmental allies are back on offense. “We’ve been forced to play defense most of the past six years,” said Gene Karpinski, head of the League of Conservation Voters.

Energy companies will likely be put on the defensive. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the presumed next speaker of the House, has already promised to repeal oil industry subsidies.

Still, I think Tod Brilliant is right that the incoming Democratic-led Congress could use a little reminder that we want to see sustainability issues high on the national agenda. Tod’s urging his readers to call incoming Speaker of House Nancy Pelosi’s office (god, that was fun to write!) to ask for substantive Congressional action on environmental issues. As he notes in his post, “Remember, Clinton/Gore kept the U.S. out of the Kyoto Treaty – their constituency never pushed them hard enough to do anything else. That was then, this is now. Let us do better this time!”

Let’s! A polite phone call or email congratulating Pelosi on her victory, and asking her to make environmental issues a priority, is certainly appropriate. If enough people do this, it will register. We should still be celebrating, but we should also let our leaders know that we support ambitious goals and innovative ideas for sustaining and restoring our natural resources.

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