In these times when states are suffering extreme downward pressure on budgets and spending, how is our environment making out? Did it suffer cuts right along with the Program to Assist Millionaires Become Billionaires? Are important environmental projects being dropped from the budget along with luxury items like the statehouse's new Gold-Plated Enforcement Gavel?
And why is the issue of environmental protection relevant at the state level? Doesn't the US Environmental Protection Agency handle all that stuff? This article answers these questions and provides smart-voting tools for you to help ensure your surroundings remain green and healthful.
ENVIRONMENTAL ACTION AT THE STATE LEVEL
While the US Environmental Protection Agency garners much of the media attention when it comes to environmental enforcement, it is actually the states that are carrying most of the load:75% of the federal programs that can be delegated to states have been delegated;90% of environmental enforcement actions are taken by the states;94% of the data in EPA databases came from the states.
In 2003, states were only spending 1.4% of their budget on environment and natural resources--an all-time low, according to Resources for the Future (www.rff.org).
Reducing resources at the state and local levels can cut the heart out of the monitoring and enforcement actions needed to ensure that our air, water, and land--and our bodies--are protected from environmental toxins. Even more troublesome are elected officials who have a weak commitment to the environment. The back-room deals cut in your governor's mansion, your statehouse, and your county council chambers can have a great impact on the environment.
STATE-BY-STATE ENVIRONMENTAL VOTING GUIDES
What have YOUR elected local officials been doing to (or for) your state and county environmental agencies, and how have they voted on environmental issues in general? Did your state legislators fund the widening of the Porkbarrel Parkway while downsizing your state's Department of Natural Resources? Find out! Grinning Planet has compiled a list of the best available environmental voting guides for all 50 US states. Find it at http://www.grinningplanet.com/vote/, along with some other helpful voting tools.
Also, don't forget about your county elections. Many important issues, such as land use and recycling programs, are usually decided at the county level. The state-level organizations we list sometimes feature links to related county or regional groups. You can also check with your local chapter of the Sierra Club (www.sierraclub.org) to see if they have a county-level voting guide.
About The Author
? 2003 by http://www.GrinningPlanet.com
Mark is a writer, financial analyst, web developer, environmentalist, and, as necessary, chef and janitor. Grinning Planet is an expression of Mark's enthusiasm for all things humorous and green, as well as a psychotic desire to work himself half-to-death. Hobbies include health foods, music, getting frustrated over politics, and occasionally lecturing the TV set on how uncreative it is. firstname.lastname@example.org