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Ask the Expert

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Here's hoping for some change

Posted: November 5, 2008 5:31 p.m.
Updated: November 6, 2008 4:59 a.m.
 
Today we have a new president-elect and a new direction. In our own uniquely American way, we have had quite an amazing bloodless revolution for change in our government. The opposing parties, instead of shooting it out at each other to kill every last rival, praised each other in genuinely heartfelt and eloquent concession and victory speeches meant to heal rifts and bring our country back together. What an incredible process we have.

So what will this change mean for the environment? Hopefully quite a lot. Perhaps the federal Environmental Protection Agency will now be able to get on with its real mandate to protect the environment and not big business. Perhaps the state will be able to stop suing the federal government in order to enforce much-needed stricter air pollution controls on vehicles in California.

Perhaps the nation will now look toward promoting real ways to move away from fossil fuels and into new and cleaner alternative energy sources. Perhaps we will really, finally begin to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. This means reducing our dependence on oil, period. It will mean less carbon production that will produce less global warming gas, it will mean cleaner air and bluer skies, it will mean less money going out of our economy to the Middle East and the beginning of a new "green jobs" revolution in our economy.

Perhaps the EPA will now review some of its absurdly excessive contaminant levels such as those set for arsenic, that really don't protect people.

Maybe the EPA will re-think its recent statement that ammonium perchlorate pollution, the rocket fuel contaminant that is polluting our local ground water basins, as well as many other areas, doesn't really hurt anyone. This finding seemed to have been made to protect the government from having to clean up the pollution caused by many military bases. Thankfully, many state governments have already set their own contaminant levels for this chemical, California being one of them. So the EPA's finding didn't really affect us. But it affected others where states were depending on the federal government to do the expensive research to fight the military contractors.

Perhaps the Army Corps of Engineers can get back to protecting wetlands. Wetlands protect our water quality by providing natural vegetation that absorbs polluting chemicals in run-off. They act as buffers against storms and flooding, slowing the velocity of floodwaters, giving those waters a place to stretch out.

And they provide the refuge and nursery for many migrating and local waterfowl and other animals. In our
valley, they provide much need groundwater recharge areas to ensure that we have a good local water supply. Pressure on the Army Corps and our local government has resulted in the unfortunate filling and building on the floodplain in many areas of the Santa Clarita Valley. Perhaps this will stop. Perhaps we will revisit some of the international trade agreements where protections for the environment and the labor force were forgotten.

Perhaps the aggressive attacks on the Endangered Species Act will slow down or stop. Perhaps we will take a closer and more contemplative look at the affect we humans are having on the other creatures with whom we share this blue green planet. Perhaps we will want to keep such magnificent animals as the polar bear, the gray wolf and our beautiful migrating salmon on this ark of the earth with us. Perhaps we will take a few more simple steps to live with nature in stewardship rather than thoughtless domination.

I feel so hopeful. Now the work begins.

Lynne Plambeck is a Santa Clarita resident and president of SCOPE. Her column reflects her own opinion and not necessarily that of The Signal. "Environmentally Speaking" appears Thursdays in The Signal and rotates among local environmentalists.

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