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Conservation groups express optimism after Biden elected

Piping Plover is one of dozens of threatened and endangered bird species that rely on federal policies for their recovery. Photo by Jay Gao/Shutterstock

As news broke on Saturday, November 7, that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have been elected the next president and vice president, several conservation groups issued statements of support for the incoming administration. And after the relentless rollbacks of environmental laws, treaties, and regulations over the last four years, the groups also noted what they’d like to see from Biden.

Here’s a roundup of what they had to say:

David Yarnold, National Audubon Society President and CEO:

“People are rising up to demand action on climate change and racial equity. And birds are telling us there is no time to lose: More than two-thirds of North American birds are threatened with extinction because of climate change. We need bold, equitable, and durable action on climate. That’s why Audubon’s 1.9 million members are helping to lead this movement. Rural and urban, progressive and conservative, Black college students and white grandparents all agree that everyone regardless of race or ethnicity should have access to clean air and water and feel safe and welcome in the outdoors.

“Now that the votes have been counted, it’s important that the rule of law is respected and the peaceful transition of power proceeds as it has since the founding of our nation. The tone of this election season put a spotlight on the deep divisions in our nation. Audubon members are deeply troubled by the racist, sexist, and homophobic rhetoric present in some campaigns. These divisions make it even harder to address climate change and to protect the places both birds and people need to thrive. But Audubon members know there is a better way forward—one that lifts up all people and creates a healthier, more resilient world.

“We have a long history as community builders, and because we are local everywhere, our membership reflects America. Our membership is 53 percent progressive and 47 percent moderate/conservative, and we have members in nearly every county in the United States.

“In a recent survey of our membership, we found that:

  • Nearly every Audubon member (97%) agrees that “every American, regardless of race or color, should have equal access to clean air and clean water.” That belief is shared by 98% of progressive Audubon members and 96% of moderates and conservatives—a deeply held value across political lines.
  • More than 95% of all Audubon members—including 9 in 10 moderate and conservative members—report concern about the following issues: destruction of habitat for birds and other wildlife; air and water pollution; attacks on bedrock environmental laws; and oil drilling and mining on protected public lands.
  • 75% of all Audubon members, including a majority of moderate and conservative members, rank climate change as one of their top three concerns among all issues facing America today—and 82% of Audubon members (including 61% of moderates and conservatives) are personally “very concerned” about growing impacts of climate change.

“Our membership demonstrates strong support across the political spectrum for action on environmental, climate, and community priorities.

“We need durable solutions with support across political lines—and our members are ready to raise their voices. Environmental concerns are no place for partisan divisions.

“Audubon is resolute in our ambition for inclusivity, our commitment to becoming an anti-racist organization, and our determination to address the disproportionate impact climate change and air and water pollution have on marginalized communities.

“To that end, we will advocate for a more resilient and inclusive economy with more green jobs, for cleaner air, and stronger communities that protect birds, conserve water, restore wetlands, and reduce emissions.

“We look forward to working with elected officials to achieve this vision.”

 

Leila Salazar-López, Amazon Watch Executive Director:

“The political and economic interests behind the destruction of the Amazon rainforest – including Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro – are losing a powerful ally with Trump’s election defeat. This is unequivocally good news for the rainforest and her peoples, which are under a sustained assault.

“During the debates, Joe Biden spoke out against the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, offering a carrot ($20 billion fund) and stick (“serious economic consequences”) approach to reigning in Bolsonaro’s egregious environmental mismanagement. Now President-elect Biden must turn those words into concrete policies and actions, as part of his broader international climate strategy. The environmental justice movement and Congress will need to hold him accountable to those words, ensuring an ambitious approach focused on supporting the Indigenous forest guardians across the region.

“Beyond rejoining the Paris Climate Accords, there are many actions the Biden administration can and should take to protect the Amazon, which is a crucial ecosystem for climate stability. Prioritizing human rights considerations in foreign policy will be important, as frontline Indigenous and other community leaders are running great personal risks to defend the forest. Diplomatic, trade and bilateral aid policies must center human rights, environmental, and climate considerations.

“Absolutely crucial to climate and Amazon protection is a hard-hitting approach to the continued investments from Wall St. firms in the very industries causing climate change and furthering Amazon destruction. We expect to see the regulatory agency appointees President Biden selects to fully and concretely address the climate change impacts of the fossil fuel, deforestation-risk, and financial industries, as well as the harm that those investments have caused to frontline communities.”

 

Kierán Suckling, Center for Biological Diversity Executive Director:

“The election of Joe Biden is a testament to the power of people to speak up and take their country back from a destructive, racist, and misogynist president — one who put polluters and profits far before people, wildlife, and the planet.

“We’re heartened by this outcome and deeply grateful to each one of you who cast a ballot to evict Donald Trump from the White House. It’s time for this national nightmare to end and a new day to dawn.

“To be sure, we won’t agree with everything the Biden administration does. Indeed, from his first day in office, we’ll be working fiercely to push him to tackle the climate emergency, address the wildlife extinction crisis, repeal Trump’s death sentence on gray wolves, and reverse the disastrous Trump rollbacks that are tearing apart our public lands and polluting our air and water.

“Those fights will come, and we’ll be ready.

“But today we know our democracy is safer and our country is on a finer trajectory — a higher road, at last.”

 

Jamie Rappaport Clark, Defenders of Wildlife President and CEO:

“After a tense season, the outcome of this election provides a ray of hope and a welcome respite from the relentless attacks on the wildlife and wild places of the last four years. President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris will assume office as the nation faces a surging climate crisis, an unprecedented biodiversity crisis, and an overwhelming loss of confidence in the government that now threatens our democracy. We look forward with a sober awareness of the work ahead but with optimism and a focused determination to change the direction for wildlife.

“The new administration must get the nation on track to creating a clean-energy economy and reverse the damage done to our nation’s public lands, wildlife and other natural resources. Investments in conservation and clean energy go hand-in-hand and can be the catalyst for a stronger economy and a clean and healthy environment for all Americans. 

“We call on the Biden administration to revive and restore the federal government’s role as the careful stewards of America’s natural resources. We look forward to working with them in the years ahead.”

 

Theresa Pierno, National Parks Conservation Association President and CEO:

“Though our country is going through a period of change, our national parks can help bridge political differences, as they’ve done so many times before. We’ve seen the power our parks have to unite us as Congress and the current administration came together to pass critical legislation to fix our parks and protect millions of acres of public lands. Our country needs bipartisan efforts like these more than ever.

“Together, we can make a real difference for our communities, our parks and our environment. As we have for more than a century, NPCA remains committed to working on behalf of our national parks and all and all who work to safeguard them. And we urge everyone who cares for our parks and all they protect to join us.

“The last four years have been brutal for our national parks and public lands. Clean air safeguards were erased, park wildlife was endangered, and clean water protections were undermined. Under this administration, we haven’t had a permanent Director of the National Park Service, creating instability and damage that could take years to reverse. Turmoil and pro-industry appointees at the top levels of the Interior Department, Environmental Protection Agency and Bureau of Land Management have forced these agencies to prioritize the development of Americans’ public lands over protecting our national parks and neighboring communities.

“We have serious work ahead of us to undo the damage that has been done to our national parks and public lands. But we are ready. We will forge key relationships with the Biden administration, as well as with new allies and returning park champions in Congress, and work together on behalf of our national parks.”

Learn more

National Audubon Society

Amazon Watch

Center for Biological Diversity

Defenders of Wildlife

National Parks Conservation Association

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