Tell Senate jobs must be priority

The following letter is being sent to our Senators.  The devisating affect of budget cuts on worker, social programs and the environment are hardly being mentioned by the media.  This letter focuses on the impact of cuts on environmental programs.  A similar letter could be written about social programs, worker safety, public education and a host of other vital programs the T Partiers want to eliminate.  Use this letter or even better write your own.  Long term deficit spending is a serious concern, but now is not the time to fire 10s of thousands of vitally need public employees.  Tell your Senators that jobs, not the deficite, has to be their primary concern.

The following letter is being sent to our Senators.  The devisating affect of budget cuts on worker, social programs and the environment are hardly being mentioned by the media.  This letter focuses on the impact of cuts on environmental programs.  A similar letter could be written about social programs, worker safety, public education and a host of other vital programs the T Partiers want to eliminate.  Use this letter or even better write your own.  Long term deficit spending is a serious concern, but now is not the time to fire 10s of thousands of vitally need public employees.  Tell your Senators that jobs, not the deficite, has to be their primary concern.

 

Dear Senator ________,

 

Aloha.  As environmental, Native Hawaiian, health, and labor organizations in Hawai‘i, we represent a wide range of groups concerned with the Continuing Resolution that passed in the House of Representatives.  The bill is a comprehensive assault on the decades-long bi-partisan legacy of environmental protection in America, which has benefited the people of Hawai‘i in so many important ways.  The bill includes extreme funding cuts as well as anti-environment riders that would be harmful to Hawai’i. It represents a radical departure from the longstanding national commitment to making the air we breathe and the water we drink cleaner and safer, as it dramatically slashes funding for our nation’s most important wildlife conservation and habitat restoration programs while blocking enforcement of several bedrock public health and environmental laws.  We write to ask you to make strong environmental protection a priority during conference negotiations on the continuing resolution, and help protect the legacy you helped establish.

 

The bill contains several anti-environmental riders that would lead to more polluted air and water and a less protected natural environment, in Hawaii and throughout the country. One rider in the bill explicitly extends loopholes in the Clean Water Act that jeopardizes drinking water for 117 million Americans and handed over 20 million acres of wetlands and prime wildlife habitat to polluters and developers. Additionally, Clean Air Act prohibitions in the bill would place an unprecedented gag order on the Environmental Protection Agency, requiring the agency to turn a blind eye to carbon dioxide pollution from smokestacks, in defiance of the Clean Air Act, a Supreme Court order, and sound science.

 

In the 40 years since the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act were enacted, they have safeguarded America from polluter excess, giving us clean skies and keeping toxic pollutants out of our streams. They have spurred economic growth and green jobs while preserving our state’s cherished wildlife legacy. These special interest provisions that were not subject to open hearings and debate afforded by the normal legislative process, and appear to be aimed at fulfilling a long sought agenda of polluters to turn back the clock on decades of bipartisan conservation progress.

 

Not only will the bill undermine America’s bedrock environmental laws but it also cuts funding for crucial programs that safeguard Hawaii’s wildlife and natural ecosystems. These programs, including the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program, the operations budget of the National Park Service, the National Wildlife Refuge System, and the Cooperative Endangered Species Fund, not only protect Hawaii’s natural resources, but provide important economic benefits to our state. These programs have helped to protect such places as Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park, Haleakala National Park, Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, as well as state reserves, wildlife sanctuaries, and watersheds. These places, and our unique natural environment, are our legacy to future generations.  They also support the living Native Hawaiian culture, add to the quality of life here in the islands, and attract visitors from around the world.  We ask you to use your leadership status in the Senate to defend these programs that help to protect and maintain this resource and which are vital to the future of Hawaii.

 

While we recognize the reality of a growing US deficit, we also know that over the past 30 years, America’ investment in parks, wildlife, clean water, and clean air has fallen from 1.7% of federal spending to 0.6% of federal spending.  This includes the full budget for the Department of Interior and EPA.  Although these programs are a small sliver of federal spending, they deliver a big payoff in the form of 3 million jobs in communities throughout America today.  Furthermore, a serious effort to address the deficit would tackle the $4 billion in annual subsidies for oil and gas corporations and a host of other tax breaks and subsidies for big polluters, rather than cutting clean energy programs that would promote sustainable sources of fuel and minimize our dependence on foreign oil.

 

The House bill is an assault on conservation in America and the funding cuts are an overreach of epic proportion.  The government and public have a longstanding national commitment to advance cleaner air and water, and protect our natural resources for the benefit of all Americans and Hawaiians, and we urge you to protect the environmental legacy by standing up for Hawai’i and the environment during upcoming negotiations.

senator@inouye.senate.gov

senator@akaka.senate.gov

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