Since the beginning of the year, we have been inundated with news about the Democratic primaries, debates, speculation, etc. The candidates carved out their positions on a number of issues that concern all Americans: the economy, health care, tax cuts, Iraq, gun control, foreign trade and jobs, among others. Okay so far, but HELLO, what about the environment? Has it suddenly become a non-issue?
For sure, this writer missed some of the debates and interviews but, from what I've seen, environmental policy seems to have come in just about dead last among the issues addressed across the board. An on-line questionnaire designed to match the person filling it out to a candidate put "Environment" last among 15 categories.
As of this writing, it seems pretty clear who the major party presidential candidates are going to be. As soon as the primaries are over in June and the candidates are officially nominated, we can expect to have a daily diet of debate, attack and counter-attack. We should demand that all facets of environmental policy be part of the debate. We must press the candidates to clearly define their positions. As environmental stewards it is up to us to take the lead in making sure that the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, national forests, national parks, clean oceans and a host of other environmental issues become prominent in the campaign process. We need to hold their feet to the fire!!!
What you can do: Be heard!! Write a letter to the editor, preferably of your daily newspaper, e.g. the NY Times, Newark Star Ledger, Trenton Times, Philadelphia Inquirer or other major paper. The candidates' campaign workers scan major newspapers to gauge public opinion or use a clipping service. A letter in a local weekly paper is less likely to have the desired effect but may prompt others to write to their daily paper. You usually can find the address on the editorial page. Remember to include your name, address and daytime telephone number in your letter-most papers call to verify that you are the person who wrote the letter.
Here are a few tips: Keep the letter short (long letters sometimes get cropped). Write short paragraphs (readers are turned off by long paragraphs, or simply scan them.) Make your point in the first paragraph, embellish later. Start with a snappy first sentence if you can-it draws the reader in. It is especially effective, and increases your chances of getting your letter in, if it relates to a story, editorial, or another letter that appeared in that particular paper. NY Times Magazine ONLY prints letters relating to their articles but, boy, that's a great place for a letter. Watch for relevant articles there. Also, keep and eye (and ear) out for call-in radio talk programs or campaign events where you can publicly ask and demand a response to, "So, what about the environment?"
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