Supporting and Defending our Environment
Living here, we are blessed to be surrounded by the natural beauty the area has to offer. From the coniferous forests, just away from the coast, to the maritime forests of our barrier islands, and of course our beautiful sandy shores on the North Atlantic. They are the reason so many are flocking here from around the world to vacation. They are the reason the area is always listed in travel magazines as being a must visit vacation destination. They are the reason many from across the nation relocate to the area. Protecting these natural resources not only makes us good curators of our planet and guardians of their beauty, it is in the best interest of our economy to defend, conserve, and protect this environment.
From the statehouse, the best ways to achieve the protection our area deserves are as follows:
- Municipal Autonomy. The fact of the matter is that an assemblyman or assemblywoman in the statehouse from the Midlands or Upstate does not have a full grasp of the challenges and full effect of decisions made in the general assembly, and how they impact our area. The people best equipped to make decisions about our local area are the local governments and elected officials. The most recent case of this was the “plastic bag ban”. Closely reading this legislation reveals it had nothing to do with plastic bags, but was a bill designed to remove authority and autonomy from local governments and preserve the authority at the statehouse. This is fundamentally flawed, and just doesn’t make good sense. We need to empower our municipal governments, not usurp their autonomy.
- Investment and encouragement of Green Energy. Not only does this make sense in attracting more jobs, for similar reasons it makes sense from the conservation standpoint. The more we transition state owned buildings, public schools, mass transit systems, and encourage homeowners to convert to the use of renewable energy to meet their electricity and fuel demands, the less we pollute and damage our environment. It is also the fiscally responsible thing to do. The State, school districts, and regional transportation authorities will spend less taxpayer monies covering their electricity, fuel, heating and air-conditioning needs. This savings can then be either reallocated toward other state or local needs, or can be passed on to the taxpayer in the form of tax savings. For the homeowner, we can provide incentives beyond ones that are currently available, transitioning homes from energy consumers to energy producers.
- Protection of our coastal waters. There has and will continue to be much debate over whether it is in our local, state, and national interest to begin the process of exploring and extracting any petroleum products from the Atlantic Coastal Shelf. I am opposed to any such exploration or extraction. The risks greatly outweigh the benefits. First, an oil derrick or two which may be visible from our beaches is an eyesore. This takes away from the beauty of the area. Second, should any type of incident involving the spillage of petroleum products occur off our coast, the economic impacts will be devastating. There will be the cost of cleanup, which many will argue will be at the expense of the drilling company, however, there are ancillary impacts as well. The container ships which frequent our ports would be subsequently rerouted to other ports, as they cannot sail through an oil slick. This impacts local businesses supported by the ports, it impacts other state businesses who receive goods through the container ships of the port, and it increases the cost of doing business if it takes longer for items to come in, or shipped items need to be rerouted through other transportation needs. This is just the impact felt on behalf of the port. There will be impact to the tourism industry, fishing industry, and marine wildlife, just to name a few. Third, there is already a better way of generating electricity and fuel that has been identified. Renewables achieve the goal of energy independence and energy choice without the added risks of fossil fuels or petroleum products. Renewables aren’t just the future, they’re the present.
- Expanding the use of mass transit. If you look at my positions on how we can supplement and expand our current transportation and infrastructure system, it should be clear that this plan will have a net positive effect on the environment and our pocketbook. A higher usage of mass transit and the use of fuel efficient technologies to provide that transportation, cuts down on CO2 and other pollution related emissions that are released into our atmosphere.
In short, transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy is the fiscally conservative thing to do, while providing protection to the environment, and adding the benefit of individual municipalities retaining their autonomy. It’s really a win-win all the way around.