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It has been three months since President Barack Obama and the United States took an important step toward leading the world in developing the Copenhagen Accord, a breakthrough new global agreement among almost 120 nations, including China and the developing world, to reduce emissions, increase transparency and support international climate change investments.
A wise man once said, Great ideas originate in the muscles. That man, Thomas Edison, launched the original electricity revolution. As Congress moves to end our addiction to foreign oil, we would also be wise to look to the muscle of the American worker.
Too many Americans are out of work or need better-paying jobs. While Congress and the president have been distracted on other issues, our nations unemployment remains too high and prospects for recovery too dim. We must return to a real jobs agenda that neither raises taxes nor kills existing jobs.
As we approach the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, America has reason to celebrate the progress we have made toward a stronger public consciousness about the environment. Being an environmentalist wasnt always a popular term in 1970, but today, a new generation of Americans is not only interested in the conservation challenges we face at home; they are interested in our global impact.
On Earth Day 2010, what we need in all our environmental policies is a little more balance and common sense. I represent a large part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and have served on the Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands since 1989. All through this time we have been told there is a multibillion-dollar maintenance backlog in our national parks.
Americans rely on water for everything from individual survival to agriculture, commerce, transportation, recreation and energy. In the western United States, water is the lifeblood of many communities, and we take pride in our efforts and successes in managing it.
Historically, the management of our marine environment has been narrowly focused on specific activities without a coordinated plan to both use and protect the ocean. The Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, created by President Barack Obama last year, and reports from the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and the Pew Oceans Commission have recommended taking a comprehensive approach to planning for the multiple uses of the ocean environment, among which is the emerging activity of offshore aquaculture.
Innovation is what America does best. Whether it is the Apollo Project to the moon, developing the most advanced defense technologies available, the rise of the Internet or the latest advancements in biomedical gene therapies, our nation leads the world in transformative innovations. We are now at a tipping point in advancing our nations energy independence, and I believe that we have the opportunity to lead with a 21st-century clean energy economy.
As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, the most serious environmental problem that we face is not global warming or the pollution of our air, water, land and food. It is whether our country moves forward in developing public policy based on science or whether we make decisions based on politics and fear-mongering.