The Pryor-Lincoln vote for dirty air | Arkansas Blog

The Pryor-Lincoln vote for dirty air

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Wayne Shewmake of Russellville, president of the Arkansas Wildlife Federation, has some choice words of criticism for votes last week by Sen. Mark Pryor and Sen. Blanche Lincoln to gut clean air legislation.

Shewmake makes a point that should resonate in Arkansas, no matter how loudly the Chamber of Commerce and Murphy Oil wail about the costs of clean air legislation. It makes good sense to reduce the amount of carbon we burn. The evidence is building that to do otherwise will damage hunting and fishing in Arkansas. Climate change is disrupting waterfowl migratory patterns and smallmouth bass and trout populations also could be at risk.

We cannot sit by idly and watch our way of life disappear, nor can we sit silently as our elected representatives stand up for Big Oil instead of us. Arkansans are ready for clean energy. We are ready to protect and preserve our environment for our children and ready see our economy strong again because of it.

Senators in Washington, including Senators Lincoln & Pryor, should be working to hold polluters accountable by limiting carbon pollution, not undermining public health and our nation’s clean energy future.
Senators in Washington need to listen to the voters, not the lobbyists.

His full letter follows.

The disaster in the Gulf of Mexico gets worse by the minute. Millions of gallons of oil have spilled, and the final costs of this tragedy are both astronomical and unimaginable. In any logical world, one look at the Gulf should cause Big Oil to be losing friends, instead of gaining them. But Washington D.C. is sometimes known as the place where logic goes to die, and this past week, our two Senators proved it.
Oil continues to spill into the Gulf of Mexico and wreak havoc on local communities and wildlife, Arkansas’ Senators Lincoln & Pryor cast supporting votes for Big Oil and against what is best for the environment and the public’s health.
Both Senator Blanche Lincoln and Senator Mark Pryor decided to stand up for Big Oil and ignore the undeniable link between America’s addiction to oil and the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. Together, they stood with Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski in an attempt to gut the Clean Air Act, and let the nation’s biggest polluters off the hook. This misguided bailout of the oil companies would have meant hundreds of millions of dollars for them, and would have left all of us holding the bag. Fortunately, even with Lincoln and Pryor’s egregious vote, the measure failed.
This “Fox guarding the Henhouse” mentality is great for their stockholders, lobbyists and members of Congress who accept their money but the results of self-regulation by businesses and industries are now being seen in the Gulf.
We've seen devastating oil spills before, but the Deepwater Oil Disaster is the worst in American history. Large areas of the Gulf are now off-limits to fishing, damaging the region's lucrative seafood industry. We are already seeing the cost of seafood rise because of the Gulf Oil spill, if Arkansas. As the oil washes up on beaches, the sting of lost tourist dollars will hit families and small businesses. The cleanup is expected to cost tens of billions and could last for years.
As President of the Arkansas Wildlife Federation, it breaks my heart to see how human activity is affecting wildlife and fisheries. Modern day Sportsmen were some of the first “Environmentalists” and it is time we rise up again, put aside our petty differences, labels and stereotypes and realize we all have a dog in this hunt.
• Already in Arkansas, global warming carbon pollution is changing our weather patterns and affecting our outdoor heritage. According to research conducted by Arkansas State University, shorter, warmer winters are keeping migratory waterfowl further north in the Mississippi fly zone.
• This affects Arkansas’ famed duck hunting and all the businesses, industries and farm families who depend on related activities.
• Smallmouth bass populations south of the Arkansas River are in jeopardy due to increased temperatures of the water, due to global warming.
• Arkansas’ world renowned trout fisheries will be subject to extreme weather patterns, such as floods and drought, which will affect flows and oxygen content into our prized tailwaters.
We cannot sit by idly and watch our way of life disappear, nor can we sit silently as our elected representatives stand up for Big Oil instead of us. Arkansans are ready for clean energy. We are ready to protect and preserve our environment for our children and ready see our economy strong again because of it.
Senators in Washington, including Senators Lincoln & Pryor, should be working to hold polluters accountable by limiting carbon pollution, not undermining public health and our nation’s clean energy future.
Senators in Washington need to listen to the voters, not the lobbyists.

Wayne Shewmake
President, Arkansas Wildlife Federation
Russellville

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