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Sierra Club Response to Idaho Falls Post-Register Editorial about CIEDRA: A Dream, not a Nightmare.

May 18, 2005


Dear Editor,

As we await Representative Mike Simpson’s final CIEDRA bill, the Sierra Club would like to respond to your May 15 editorial “A dream, not a nightmare.”

Think you know what an environmentalist looks like? Strike that image from your head. These days, the most compelling voices for environmental stewardship are as likely to be a minister, a hunter, a nurse, a soccer-mom, or a union shop steward.

There’s been a lot of talk this year about how divided our country has become. But if you look around you’ll see that environmental issues are creating uncommon alliances and providing common ground for people who agree on little else -- but who have reached a broad consensus on the need to conserve land, clean-up pollution and protect wildlife. In an increasingly polarized nation, environmental issues may be a natural way to unite groups across the spectrum.

It turns out green is the bridge between red and blue, left and right, the evangelical and the agnostic. At the national level and in our own backyard, unusual allies are joining together to underscore this trend—and to show the face of a new environmental movement that is not just for “conservationists,” but for everyone who breathes air, drinks water, and loves the outdoors.

Take, for example, recent actions by conservative evangelicals who recently sent a letter to President Bush that said, “Protection of the global climate is an essential requirement for faithful human stewardship of God’s creation on Earth.” The National Council of Churches, which represents over 100,000 congregations nationwide, has begun to describe stewardship of the earth as a critical “moral value.”

It's not just religious groups. Hunters and anglers are the most vocal allies of wetlands protection and they represent a formidable obstacle to anyone proposing to weaken existing protections. Unions have also taken up the environment as a cause; they know better than anyone that developing clean energy technologies will create quality jobs. And Latinos and African-Americans are also becoming more visibly linked to conservationists because it’s their families and communities that are disproportionately affected by pollution.

The whole notion of environmental politics as a unifying issue is as true in Idaho as it is anywhere. Perhaps nothing better demonstrates this trend than the fight to protect the Sawtooth Natural Recreation Area (SNRA). A diverse coalition of voices from across the nation are joining together to say we need to invest in our wildlife habitat and wild land. The SNRA is our Yellowstone Park and to start selling off lands within the SNRA is wrong.

Whether you’re liberal or conservative, small business owner or a worker, all Idahoan’s can agree on one thing: the SNRA is one of Idaho’s crown jewels. What we have learned over and over again is that everyone has a stake when it comes to protecting our air, water, and natural places. The values we are talking about – like fairness, responsibility, health and safety – are universal. And many of the solutions to our environmental challenges are well within reach, if we work together.

“When we try to pick out anything by itself," Sierra Club founder John Muir famously said, "we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” That's more true today than ever.

Jessica Ruehrwein
Sierra Club
Boise, ID

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