Meeting with Energy and Environmental Leaders
See Conservancy president and CEO Mark Tercek speak at a meeting of environmental leaders and the Obama transition team.
Dear President Obama:
On behalf of the nearly one million members of The Nature Conservancy, congratulations on your election as President of the United States of America.
Conservation progress in America has come in moments of national realization that our future is threatened by the destruction of our natural resources. Now is one of those times.
The Nature Conservancy’s long experience in helping to create conservation policy advances at the local, state, national and international levels and in carrying out tangible and practical conservation projects at every scale has led us to believe that the health of natural systems and the welfare of human communities are inextricably linked. We believe that diverse public and private interests must work together to achieve lasting conservation success.
The degradation of our environment is by no means inevitable. With your leadership, the United States can build on its rich conservation tradition to create a framework of healthy air, land and water that will protect natural systems, and around which the next generations of Americans can build secure and rewarding lives.
Initiatives already pending in Congress and the untapped potential of the professional staffs of federal agencies can be brought together with new ideas to achieve environmental progress right away.
The Nature Conservancy’s highest priorities for conservation action include:
- Stabilizing Earth’s climate through the passage of greenhouse gas cap-and-trade legislation, investments in energy conservation and cleaner energy technology, and the design and siting of energy facilities to minimize environmental impacts.
- Conserving the most environmentally important natural resource lands for their multiple values in partnership with the states, conservation organizations and private landowners.
- Connecting and caring for our heritage of Federal lands to ensure that they are resilient to the pressures of unplanned development and climate change.
- Ensuring the health of water resources by committing the Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation to new ways of managing our dams, by restoring wetlands and coastal ecosystems, and by using the Coastal Zone Management Act as an effective instrument for managing the many, often competing, demands on coastal lands and waters.
- Using environmental progress here in the U.S. as a platform for working cooperatively with other countries to negotiate a new global climate treaty, by securing ratification of the Convention on Biological Diversity, and by increasing U.S. aid for conservation in developing countries.
All of these recommendations are achievable politically and practically. Much is already underway; more can be done with innovation and new ideas.
Yes, money is an issue, but the leasing of federally-owned energy resources, the conversion to a lower-carbon economy, and offsets to unavoidable environmental damage from energy and infrastructure projects can all be sources of funding. Our experience tells us that expenditures on the environment are not costs but investments in the future.
The actions we suggest here are inter-related, and our success in addressing environmental problems on a crowded Earth will depend on our ability to work across boundaries, to see things as a whole. This strongly suggests a more important role for the White House staff offices (including the Council on Environmental Quality) and for the new agency heads in helping federal agencies to find synergies and efficiencies in working more effectively together. And it suggests a central role for the President in convincing the public and private sectors, urban and rural interests that they all share and must take responsibility for our one connected environment.
While the path ahead is steep, the journey to saving America’s environmental heritage should never be thought of as a burden, but rather as the shared national privilege of passing on to those who follow us the healthy and beautiful natural systems that sustain the diversity of our native plants and animals and upon which our own lives depend.
We wish you all the very best in your Presidency in these challenging times and offer our help and support in implementing your environmental initiatives.
President and CEO
The Nature Conservancy