Committed to Our Natural Environment

27 Jul

I have lived in Northern California all my life, enjoy wilderness trail running, and care deeply about protecting our natural beauty and resources. I am dedicated to a model of environmental policy that ensures public participation, transparency, and social justice. I will work with President Obama and Van Jones to usher in a new era of energy, with smart utility systems, jobs for laborers and craftsmen, and new engineering centered around clean power.

I will also support creating and empowering local government councils to advise Congressional leaders on their increasingly large districts, a change that will ensure greater environmental accountability. Additionally, I will sponsor, support and lobby for legislation to end the “grandfathering” of unsafe chemicals present in everyday household products. We must shine a bright light on the harmful compounds polluting our streams, our lands and our own bodies.

Ensuring a Strong and Responsive EPA
While legislation plays a role in protecting streams and waterways from coalmining waste, and I will remain vigilant on it, we also need to ensure that the EPA uses its power to enforce standards already on the books. That is why I applaud the EPA’s decision earlier this year to direct the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to revoke the “nationwide 21” mining permit for A&G Coal’s massive Ison Rock Ridge mountaintop removal coal mine in Southwest Virginia. This was a move that originated with the lobbying efforts of Appalachian coalfield residents who visited the EPA in April – a model for how citizens and the government should work together. Mountaintop coal removal must end immediately.

The Supreme Court’s recent ruling allowing a mining company to pump hundreds of thousands of gallons per day of toxic slurry in Alaska is a travesty. I support a strengthened Clean Water Act. The U.S. should also ratify the Law of the Sea Treaty.

Funding Upgrades to the Nation’s Sewer Systems
I support funding to maintain, and especially to upgrade to sustainable methods, our nation’s sewer systems. I support funding the Clean Water State Revolving Fund’s very important role in funding projects for wastewater treatment, nonpoint source pollution control, and watershed and estuary management. The CWSRF has a smart approach to such funding, including low-interest loans and setting up partnerships with other sources of funding.

Permanently Protecting Wilderness Areas, ANWR
I favor legislation to permanently protect as many wilderness areas as possible, from the Devil’s Staircase to the Rocky Mountain Front to forests in the Southeast United States. The Sierra Club was recently part of an alliance that successfully challenged Bush-era forest mismanagement in federal court. I applaud this decision. Forest rules should be consistent with the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act.

In many ways, the ANWR debate typifies the ignorance of eight years of Bush/Cheney on economics (misleading the public on “supply-side” solutions to rising oil prices) and environmental risks. I support permanent protection for the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and its designation as a National Wilderness area.

Funding Family Planning for Healthy Population Growth
Barack Obama was right to rescind the Global Gag Rule, which was a death sentence for many women in developing countries. Now we need to restore and increase funding for both international and domestic family planning programs. Such funding has lagged behind inflation, and is critical to help people all over the world plan the size and spacing of their families. The impacts of such planning, from quality of life to decreased extremist violence to sustainable environmental and food policies, cannot be overstated. The United Nations Population Fund has concluded that every dollar invested in family planning could save up to $31 in education, food, health, housing, water and sewage services.

I will vigorously and tirelessly pursue environmental and economic justice as part of any U.S. trade agenda.

Clean Passenger and Freight Rail
I support Obama’s call for an extension of the Surface Transportation statute and will enthusiastically campaign to get on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee.

I believe there are many opportunities to ensure that sound environmental and social justice provisions are included in America’s transportation policies. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act includes $8 billion for intercity passenger rail projects and rail congestion grants, with priority for high-speed rail. While it’s easy to sell policymakers on clean high-speed rail, we should also push for clean freight rail. I am also an advocate of the Sewage Overflow Community Right-to-Know Act, which requires the public monitoring, notification and reporting of sewer overflows.

Transparency and public accountability are powerful weapons in the fight against hazardous waste in communities.

Adriel Hampton is a journalist, Gov 2.0 and new media strategist, public servant, and licensed private investigator. He is running for U.S. Congress in the 2009 special election for California’s 10th District.

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