Issue Position: Stewards of Our Nation's Rich Natural Heritage
John McCain is proud of his longstanding commitment to conserving America's natural resources and promoting environmental stewardship. John McCain knows we face immense environmental challenges that will impact the quality of life we leave our children and future generations. A McCain White House will reflect the guiding principles of Theodore Roosevelt, America's foremost conservation president.
Our nation's conservation movement began over a century ago as westward expansion encouraged clearcutting logging practices, unsustainable grazing policies, and the overhunting of game and fish populations. Visionaries such as Teddy Roosevelt, John Muir, and Ding Darling rallied Americans behind unprecedented efforts to save our wild landscapes, important watersheds and migratory bird corridors. Their labors led Americans to embrace principles of multiple-use public lands management and natural resource conservation based upon sound science. This heritage must be understood and reignited in Americans to meet the challenges we face.
Our national parks, national seashores, wildlife refuges and national monuments embody America's commitment to preserving our most precious natural treasures. Unfortunately, Congress' failure to devote the proper resources towards operations and maintenance has caused many park units to fall into disrepair. As we reconnect with our outdoor heritage we must focus on maintaining these areas. From the Grand Canyon to Gettysburg, to the Indiana Dunes and the Everglades, we must preserve the cultural significance and natural beauty of our most wild and historic places. These irreplaceable landscapes deserve our renewed attention.
Wildlife and Fisheries
Every year, more than 45 million Americans venture to our forests, marshes, mountains, lakes and streams to pursue the traditions of hunting and fishing. Our sportsmen are citizen stewards of these sensitive areas and play a vital role in maintaining the abundance of wildlife found on our public lands. Indeed the sportsmen community is perhaps our strongest advocate for programs that encourage habitat protection and wildlife conservation. A vibrant hunting and angler community is essential to supporting our state and federal game and fish agencies.
Additionally, we should promote collaborative public-private partnership initiatives such as the North America Waterfowl Management Plan, which build upon the common objectives of various stakeholder groups including hunters and conservation advocates. We must also reverse the declining access to quality hunting and angling opportunities vital to the sportsmen tradition. The long term success of wildlife and fisheries populations is dependant upon a knowledgeable society invested in the efforts to provide for wildlife access and habitat protection.
America's "no net loss" wetlands policy is not being achieved. Rapid urbanization and poor water resource management continues to claim a considerable acreage of our delicate wetlands. Therefore, we must develop water resource policies that will protect these important natural assets for the benefit of all. This means employing long-term science-based strategies that properly manage strained freshwater resources, like the Great Lakes watershed, and promote polices that will preserve sensitive areas like the Everglades and the Louisiana coastal marshes.
Economic development is essential to a strong American economy but urban sprawl shouldn't be allowed to expand unabated at the expense of our remarkable wild and scenic public lands. Instead we should promote responsible growth and encourage state and local officials to implement open space initiatives and establish green corridors within our communities. This will require strengthening federal tools like Land and Water Conservation Fund that emphasizes recreation and the protection of wildlife areas.
Climate Change and Energy Independence
Climate change is the single greatest environmental challenge of our time. The facts of global warming demand our urgent attention, especially in Washington. Not only does our dependence on foreign oil bring about sizable national security risks but the preponderance of scientific evidence points to the warming of our climate from the burning of fossil fuels. We can no longer deny our responsibility to lead the world in reducing our carbon emissions.
John McCain has announced The Lexington Project, a comprehensive energy and climate strategy to provide America with secure sources of energy, ensure our continued prosperity, and address global climate change. This plan includes the elements necessary to achieve these objectives by: producing more power, pushing technology to help free our transportation sector from its use of foreign oil, cleaning up our air, addressing climate change, and ensuring that Americans have dependable energy sources.
This strategy recognizes that we must reexamine our national energy policy and enact reforms that allow the market to do more to open new paths of invention and ingenuity. And we must do this in a way that gives American businesses new incentives to develop clean and renewable energy technologies. The most direct way to achieve this is through a cap-and-trade system that sets clear limits on all greenhouse gases, while also allowing the sale of rights to excess emissions.
We have an opportunity for American agriculture to be a major player in the pursuit of energy independence through the development of bio diesel and cellulosic energy. In moving forward, we must integrate environmental policies that maintain quality wildlife habitat near and downstream of farmland. The past quarter century shown that environmental stewardship programs like the Conservation Reserve Program and the Wetland Reserve Program have helped reduce wetland loss, improve water quality and minimize soil erosion. As we build our new energy economy, these programs should be recognized as good agriculture practices central to sustaining healthy ecosystems.