BY CONGRESSMAN ED CASE – (D-HAWAII 2002-2007) – Earth Day 2012 asks each and all of us to fulfill our obligation to preserve our environment. Forty two years after the first Earth Day, our report card is mixed. Landmark legislation and international agreements have slowed declines in some areas, and environmental awareness and commitment are increasing.
But the clear picture is of our world’s air, lands and oceans under severe, even mortal, threat, by our own actions. This is no less so in our Hawai’i, where we have been entrusted with special gifts that are uniquely threatened.
We have a basic choice to make, a choice that can and should be led by our country. For your Senator, that means providing strong leadership in DC over the next generation that faces up to this threat to our planet, puts protecting our environment first, and directs a sustainable future.
Ten Principles. I commit to doing just that, as I have throughout my career. In doing so, I will be guided by these ten principles:
(1) Protecting our Earth is not about what we want to do but what we must do. Not only is this a basic obligation of humankind, but short of corrective action we are on an unsustainable path.
(2) Protecting our Earth must be achieved internationally. While we can take specific actions to preserve Hawaii’s and our country’s environment, our world environments are so interconnected that only global agreements will really do the job for all.
(3) Our country can and should lead the way. We have that ability, in our relationships with other countries and peoples and the conduct of our foreign, defense, humanitarian, trade and other policies, and we must exercise it.
(4) Climate change is real. There is now a broad scientific consensus that the increasing production of fossil fuel-based energy is altering our atmosphere and harming our world. We must turn from arguing about whether it’s happening to what to do about it.
(5) Assuring our energy needs also protects our Earth. Most of the greatest threats to our environment are linked one way or another to increasingly unaffordable, unsustainable and unclean energy. As we forge a different energy future (see my Agenda #5: Assuring Our Energy Needs, we also forge a better environmental future.
(6) Landmark environmental legislation should be protected and enhanced. The Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and other laws like them have worked to preserve our country’s environment, but are under siege in DC. They must be continued and improved upon.
(7) Our Hawai’i has unique resources and special needs. We have been entrusted with one of our world’s most diverse and unique environments which, by our own hand, has become one of our world’s most endangered. We cannot turn away from our special obligation to preserve it.
(8) Our world’s oceans need special help. From Hawaii’s reefs to our deep oceans, our marine environment is under incredible stress. National and international attention and effort, which has too often been focused on our air and lands, must be turned as well to our oceans.
(9) Environmental protection is good for business. The whole debate pitting economy against environment must be rejected as untrue and unproductive. Whole segments of our economy, such as Hawai’i tourism, rest directly on environmental preservation, and our country’s (and Hawaii’s) leadership in researching and developing the next generation of energy and other technology to preserve our environment can contribute greatly to growth in our economy and jobs (see my Agenda #1: Growing Our Economy).
(10) Each Senator matters. This is a generation of choice, and each U. S Senator will not only make those choices for us all, but has the ability, if he or she is willing and able, to provide national leadership in protecting our Earth.
Ten specifics. It’s not possible here to address all of the environmental challenges facing our country and Congress today, much less those only now developing. But here are some examples of my Senate agenda on protecting our environment.
- Global warming. Pursue national legislation and international agreements to reduce carbon emissions.
- Trade agreements. Incorporate mutual environmental protections in international trade agreements.
- National legislation. Preserve and enhance the core protections of our national environment laws, fund adequate regulatory enforcement through the Environmental Protection Agency and others, fund federal direct support for environmental protection, and oppose anti-environmental riders on budget and other non-environmental legislation.
- National parks. Preserve and expand our national parks, wildernesses, refuges and other special resources both nationally and in Hawai’i.
- ANWR. Oppose oil drilling and other commercial activities in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as inconsistent with the full protection of a wildlife refuge.
- Fracking. Oppose expansion of underground hydraulic fracturing until strict safeguards are in place.
- Federal government operations. Implement conservation and other environmental protections into operations of federal government such as procurement requirements.
- Oceans. Support the National Endowment for the Oceans Act (introduced by Sen. Inouye and others) to permanently fund ocean conservation efforts.
- Coral reefs. Support measures and funding to protect and restore our coral reefs and reef fisheries. Outlaw importation of coral reef and other ocean products obtained through illegal or destructive practices.
- Invasive species. Strengthen and expand inspection and other practices to prevent the further introduction of destructive invasive species to Hawai’i.
With strong and effective leadership on these and other initiatives, we can turn the tide back toward truly protecting our environment and look forward to truly celebrating future Earth Days.
|-Congressional record rated 90-100% by Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters and other national environmental organizations
-Awards for environmental service include Koa Award/Elected Official of the Year (Conservation Council of Hawai’i) and President’s Award (Hawaii Audubon Society)
-Drafted and introduced the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands National Marine Refuge Act (implemented by Presidential designation, now the Papahanaumokuakea National Marine Monument)
-Summary of congressional record here (pp. 6-7)