Opinion Pieces

03.16.16

Fairy tales about the West are fueling public lands conflict

Last month, a federal court indicted the armed extremists who took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon on multiple counts of felony conspiracy, making threats and other serious charges. The property damage they caused, which is still being assessed, will likely be charged to the American taxpayers on whose behalf they claimed to be acting. While they and their patron, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, now face the prospect of years behind bars, their ideology still enjoys con… Continue Reading


01.29.16

To ensure social justice, reauthorize the Historic Preservation Fund

In the late 1960s Congress passed sweeping legislation that fundamentally changed how we as a people engage with our neighbors, our history and our environment. In a few short years, we made overdue improvements to laws governing voting rights, civil rights, healthcare opportunities, education for young children, protection of wilderness, and fairer treatment for Native Americans. Thanks to a forward-looking Congress and effective federal leadership, every branch of the federal government played… Continue Reading


11.18.15

The G.O.P.’s Myopia on Coal

IT'S no secret that American coal companies are facing tough times. Shares of Peabody Energy, the world's largest private-sector coal company, have lost more than 90 percent of their value over the last year, and Arch Coal has seen its shares plummet to less than $2 from about $28 a year ago (and nearly $360 in 2011). Another major producer, Alpha Natural Resources, filed for bankruptcy protection in August. While it may not qualify for life support just yet, the American coal industry is deci… Continue Reading


10.28.15

The Clean Power Plan Helps Improve Climate Quality Standards for Communities of Color

Ever since President Obama presented the final version of the Clean Power Plan in August, we've seen coal- and gas-heavy states try to stop this badly needed effort in its tracks. As recently as Oct. 13, North Dakota's attorney general told a conference panel that he's preparing a lawsuit to block the program even as the state environment agency gets ready to implement it. This highly political reaction ignores just how badly climate change is impacting Americans' health, especially in communit… Continue Reading


10.21.15

Only Congress can prevent National Wildlife Refuges’ financial death spiral

Last week was National Wildlife Refuge Week. Considering the lack of support our refuges get from Congress, you'd be forgiven for not noticing. Over the past several years, our national wildlife refuges - homes to bald eagles, American alligators, grey wolves and too many other iconic species to name - have been systematically starved of money and staff. Many are already less open to the public than they were a few short years ago, and others are less able to protect vulnerable species than th… Continue Reading


08.28.15

Toxic Legacy: 1872 Law Lets Miners Profit on the Backs of American Taxpayers


07.21.15

We need new energy policy, now

The energy world we live in now was unthinkable just a decade ago. Policy back then was shaped by talk of peak oil and fears of increased reliance on Russian or Middle East imports. President Bush used his State of the Union address that year to push Congress for legislation to reduce environmental oversight and expand domestic drilling. As I remember it, the mood in Washington could best be described as frantic. So much has changed since then. Domestic development is now booming so fast that B… Continue Reading


07.09.15

The climate change fight cannot be won with white liberal America alone

The biggest issue in conservation - bigger than any mining project, power plant or climate plan - is diversity. The environmental movement needs to start looking like modern America. To continue our proud American legacy of protecting our environment, we need to adapt. A recent report released by Green 2.0 highlights the environmental movement's disconcerting lack of diversity. Unconscious bias, inadequate recruitment and poor retention all stand in the way of a more diverse environmental movem… Continue Reading


05.09.14

Gray wolves deserve continued protection: Guest opinion

For two years, a lone gray wolf has traversed rugged Oregon terrain and crossed invisible state borders searching for a mate. The wolf, known as OR-7, is one of only 64 gray wolves known to roam Oregon and he was the first known wolf to enter California in decades. Since he split from his fledgling northeastern Oregon pack, his 3,000 mile journey has been chronicled by local and national press and captured the attention of many in Oregon and beyond. Gray wolves like OR-7 were not always so ra… Continue Reading


11.02.12

Post-Sandy Plan for Climate Change: Protect, Prepare, Prevent

Sandy's destructive path has left a scar on our nation. Our hearts go out to the families of the more than 90 people killed, and to the Americans still struggling without power, food and water. But in Sandy's wake must be a wake-up call. Climate change is no longer some far off issue. It's at our doorstep right now. We must consider how to address the underlying factors that are fueling these extreme weather events. For a superstorm like Sandy to occur so late in the storm season, reach such f… Continue Reading


09.28.12

Deadly connection: New report on extreme weather and climate change

Climate change is having a steroidal effect on extreme weather. A summer featuring the hottest July on record in the continental United States punctuated a series of costly and deadly weather events. This week, we released a new report, "Going to Extremes: Climate Change and the Increasing Risk of Weather Disasters" [PDF]. The report looks at the impacts of 2012's record-breaking heat on agriculture, wildfires, storms, and water levels. The report found the links between extreme weather and c… Continue Reading


08.27.12

The GOP's "Conventional" Wisdom

Right now, the Republican National Committee is scrambling to reschedule events at their "convention reinvention" for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan because of Tropical Storm Isaac. They have already cancelled today's events, scrapped a speech by Donald Trump and are grappling with the fact that the nation's attention may turn away from Tampa and towards Isaac. But it doesn't have to be all bad for the Republicans. Perhaps this decision will give Republicans an extra day to think about the fact that… Continue Reading


08.23.12

Climate Change SOS: Drought, Water & Energy

Next week, Mitt Romney will accept the Republican nomination in Tampa from a party increasingly dominated by global warming deniers. He will do so from a convention center in Florida that will likely be flooded by rising sea levels and extreme storms by 2030. GOP leaders are not worried about knee-deep water. That's because they are too busy trying to knee-cap clean energy. The Romney-Ryan agenda calls for a 90 percent cut to clean energy, like wind and solar, yet keeps in place $40 billion in … Continue Reading


04.18.12

Exporting Gas = Exporting Jobs

In 2011, for the first time in 62 years, the United States became a net exporter of oil products. To consumers who are watching their family budgets being crushed by rising gas prices, this is a shocking development. American drivers are increasingly unhappy that the price of gas is fueling record profits for big oil companies, sending trillions to OPEC nations like Iran, and keeping an oil market casino open for Wall Street speculators. Now, Americans learn that their oil, produced on land p… Continue Reading


02.24.12

Carbon emission policy could slash debt, improve environment

Democrats Henry A. Waxman and Edward J. Markey represent California's 30th District and Massachusetts's 7th District, respectively, in the House of Representatives. Republicans Sherwood Boehlert and Wayne Gilchrest formerly represented New York and Maryland districts, respectively, in the House. At the end of this year, the United States will confront a trifecta of difficult fiscal challenges: The Bush tax cuts will be set to expire; the defense budget and spending on civilian programs will fac… Continue Reading


02.08.12

Drill here, sell there, pay more

It might surprise Americans to learn that in 2011, our nation's No. 1 export was our fuel. That's right. For the first time in 62 years, since Harry Truman was president, the United States was a net exporter of oil products. An estimated $88 billion worth of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other petroleum products was sent to overseas markets last year. Meanwhile, the price of gasoline is up 37 cents per gallon compared to a year ago, according to AAA. Consumers are now being tipped upside down… Continue Reading


01.17.12

The Grand Canyon: Not for Sale

In the late 1960s, the daredevil Evel Kneivel lobbied the United States Government to jump over the Grand Canyon on his motorcycle. Believe it or not, jumping over the Grand Canyon has now become the second-craziest idea ever proposed about our nation's most iconic natural feature. That is because the Republican plan to give away land around the Grand Canyon to Russian uranium mining interests is the first. In an effort to solidify their standing as the worst environmental Congress in history,… Continue Reading


11.03.11

US News & World Reports: Time to Close Deficit by Ending Handouts to Big Oil

Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a shortsighted proposal that would benefit big oil companies and not the American economy. There is an age-old saying: When you are in a hole, stop digging. But as Congress looks for new ideas to reduce our national deficit, there sit the Republicans, shovel in hand, hoping to resuscitate an old idea, drilling in the ANWR. The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, or the "supercommittee," has been charged with reducing our deficit by at … Continue Reading


07.29.11

Huffington Post: Driven to Change

President Obama and U.S. automakers have announced the latest phase of fuel economy standards, moving to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. This big win for consumers will result in a total savings of 3.5 million barrels of oil a day by 2030 compared to what we would have used before my 2007 law to increase fuel economy standards was implemented. These fuel efficiency standards strike at the heart of the oil cartel that has held America in a stranglehold for decades -- restricting our economic grow… Continue Reading


07.20.11

The Hill: Republicans trying to turn back clock on bedrock environmental protections

These days, sitting through hearings on the House Natural Resources Committee means watching environmental standards get rolled back one by one. The House majority has an agenda to repeal decades of conservation progress in this country, and they're not slowing down. My predecessors in this congressional seat, Morris "Mo" Udall (D) and his older brother, Stewart (D), would be shocked at this misguided effort to gut the kind of sensible conservation policies they championed - policies backed by… Continue Reading

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