Monday, July 11, 2005

BRC 30: Lowell Feld: Chesapeake Bay needs Tim Kaine!

As a child, Lowell Feld's ambitions were to be rich, famous, and politically powerful. In his 20s and 30s, he decided to settle for sexy and popular while paying off the exorbitant loans from his Ivy League education and Masters Degree in Middle East Studies. Now, at age 42, and having achieved absolutely none of his goals, he sits around thinking "deep thoughts," ventures off occasionally to backpack around Third World hellholes, volunteers for Democratic candidates like Wes Clark, and takes out his frustrations at the world by writing for snarky Web 'zines and blogs like RaisingKaine. He is an international energy analyst based in the Washington, DC area who believes strongly that "oil is a curse."

Note: I originally thought about not publishing Lowell's post because it advocates for a candidate I know nothing about, but then thought "What the hell? There's great information on the Chesapeake Bay here." I'll add the disclaimer, though, that I take no position on the Virginia governor's race...

Today, “outdoorsman extraordinaire” (hunting, fishing) Angus Phillips declares in his Washington Post column that “The Chesapeake Bay Is Ailing, and This Time It’s Serious.” He ain’t kidding. As Phillips writes:

The bay, by contrast, may be murky but it’s a veritable font of life, the natal grounds for a host of tasty marine and river species. When Capt. John Smith arrived here in the 1600s, he wrote that you could just about walk across the rivers on the backs of fish.

So imagine my disappointment the first day back when I called an old friend to suggest a little celebratory crab feast. I was licking my lips. “We could go,” he said, “but you should know in advance they’re $80 a dozen. Crabs are scarce this year.”

Phillips then goes on to quote Tom Horton, “longtime journalistic conscience of the Chesapeake,” as follows:

“The bay scene is changing, and there’s an air of finality to it now. The bay today has become the ecological equivalent of a morbidly obese person, force-fed nitrogen and phosphorus.

Phillips asks whether or not this might just be “another cycle,” but concludes darkly:

After decades of general decline I no longer think so, and when no less an authority than Horton, who has covered the bay and its woes expertly and thoroughly for over 30 years, writes as grimly as he does, I’m clearly not alone.

Meanwhile, according to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation:

Nearly 7,000 miles of Virginia rivers and streams, including the entire Chesapeake Bay, are so polluted they are listed on the national “dirty waters list.” Virginia voters continue to rank pollution of the Chesapeake Bay and local rivers as among their top concerns, and an overwhelming majority support additional state funding to improve water quality. Virginia, however, continues to rank last nationally in the amount of money it spends on natural resource protection.

This is exactly why we need Tim Kaine as governor, because he truly understands what’s at stake here. More than that, as Lt. Governor he has “strongly supported honoring Virginia’s commitments in the Chesapeake 2000 agreement,” as well as “Governor Warner’s veto of a bill to promote offshore drilling for natural gas.”

In endorsing Tim Kaine for governor and Creigh Deeds for Attorney General, the non-partisan Virginia League of Conservation Voters (LCV) said, “These candidates have provided thoughtful responses and demonstrate a wholehearted commitment to conservation in the commonwealth.” In contrast, the Virginia LCV noted, “some of the opponents of the endorsed candidates did not respond to the questionnaire and have refused to go on record regarding critical environmental protection issues.”

In other words, if you’re someone who loves the outdoors — boating, fishing, hunting, hiking, camping — you need to vote for people like Tim Kaine and Creigh Deeds. Even if you just enjoy meals of rockfish and blue crab from the Bay, you also need to support candidates in the Mark Warner conservationist mold. In contrast, with people like Jerry Kilgore in charge, those rockfish and blue crabs are going to be in big trouble.

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