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A National Environmental Policy?

The fact that our country has a National Environmental Policy Act means we should have a national environmental policy, and any national environmental policy is bound to take into consideration global warming, right?

Wrong. On two counts.

The U.S. is sorely lacking an updated environmental policy. It’s been over a decade and counting. With the EPA as example, and based on its condition as of late (see here, here and here), the climate’s looking grim.

As for a cohesive national policy that takes into account global warming’s causes and impacts? Think again. States have been infinitely more active than our federal government (and we thank them).

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Presented with this gaping problem, Christopher Pyke and Kit Batten co-authored and released a paper yesterday entitled “Full Disclosure,” calling for an Executive Order by the next president to require consideration of global warming into federal policy decisions under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). They argue the government has this ability and is already authorized under NEPA to exercise it.

The paper’s release was celebrated with an event hosting former Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, Professor Jonathan Cannon, former EPA Administrator Carol Browner and co-authors Pyke and Batten. You can read a brief description here.

The description closes as Sec. Babbitt closed his keynote, and as I think its worth closing this post. The magnitude of global warming — its causes, its solutions, its consequences — is such that it forces a question so simple and straightforward, one that we often neglect and yet one that will ultimately define our country and our leadership: Does our government have the honesty and compassion required to talk to its citizens about their future?

Right now we don’t. But we should, and we could…

— Kari Manlove