Congress Must Invest in Nature to Protect America’s Communities, Economy and Security

ARLINGTON, VA (RPRN) 8/5/2009–As the Senate Finance Committee holds a hearing today on Allowance and Revenue Distribution in Climate Change Legislation, The Nature Conservancy released the following statement from Eric Haxthausen, the Conservancy’s Director of U.S. Climate Policy:

“As the Senate looks at the enormous shares of allowance value that will be generated through a new national clean energy system and be distributed to various business sectors, lawmakers must not forget one of our most vital economic industries: nature.

“Healthy natural systems provide communities across the country and around the world with water, food, jobs and shelter. According to a 2006 Outdoor Industry Foundation study, outdoor recreation, including hunting, fishing, camping and skiing, accounts for 8 percent of all consumer spending in the United States, contributing $730 billion to the national economy each year. In all, some 6.5 million jobs – nearly 1 of every 20 jobs in the United States – depend on healthy natural resources.

“To combat climate change, we must significantly reduce the amount of carbon we are putting in the atmosphere, but we must also ensure our natural resources are healthy and strong enough to survive the climate impacts caused by the carbon we have already emitted – impacts we are already seeing today.

“In the United States, increased flooding, growing droughts, the spread of harmful insects and other climate impacts put America’s water and food supplies at risk, while threatening to forever change the quality and character of the lives of the American people.

“In the developing world, climate change can trigger political instability as people struggle to survive amidst spreading disease and shrinking food and water supplies. Military experts say these impacts will directly threaten our national security by fostering political extremism and pulling America’s military into the fray.

“Just as America’s energy industries look to Congress for financial support to help them transition to the new low-carbon world, our natural resources need Congress’s support to remain healthy and economically productive as they struggle to adapt to climate change.

“To ensure the country’s and the world’s natural resources can survive climate change and continue to provide the food, water, shelter and economic income we all rely upon for survival, Congress should dedicate 5 percent of all allowance value generated under a new clean energy system to federal, state and tribal agencies to help them conserve natural resources in a warming world.

“Surely if one in 20 jobs in the United States are dependent on healthy natural resources, Congress should provide an equal amount of allocations to protect those resources and the jobs, communities and economies they support.

“In addition, Congress should dedicate 3 percent of allocations to help vulnerable communities around the world protect themselves against food and water shortages, floods, disease and other threats climate change will bring. Helping natural resources and natural systems around the world stay healthy and productive is critical to making communities more resilient to climate change and avoiding the threats climate change poses to regional stability.

“As Congress develops a national strategy to combat climate change, investing in maintaining the health of natural systems cannot be an afterthought. Ultimately, protecting the land and water upon which humans and other species depend on for survival is essential to protecting our nation’s prosperity, security and way of life.”

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The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.

Contact:

Karen Foerstel
kfoerstel@tnc.org
(917) 652-2642