Ten years ago I wrote an Earth Day column for the New Hampshire Union Leader demonstrating that the environmental platforms of the Democratic and Republican parties in New Hampshire were remarkably similar. Much has changed.
In 2004, Democrats stated “Much of New Hampshire’s economy is based on industries and businesses that depend on open space’. Republicans stated, “The beauty of New Hampshire as a place to live and work depends upon a healthy environment’. The 2004 Democrats supported “protection of wildlife habitat to maintain healthy sustainable ecosystems”; the 2004 Republicans wanted to “preserve sensitive ecosystems and effectively manage wildlife”. MtBE should be “eliminated” (Democrats) or “banned” (Republicans) .
One could not distinguish between the NH Republican and Democratic Platforms when it came to the environment ten years ago. But today differences are readily apparent :
Let’s re-engage, as citizens, and help the Democrats and Republicans return to one path towards sustained protection of New Hampshire’s natural resources.
The federal government passed strong air and water regulations in the early 1970s. Our founding fathers understood that economic prosperity depended upon the energies of individuals within a free market. The NH Seacoast is home to 25 percent of New Hampshire’s workforce. Where is the evidence that prosperity, happiness and property rights are stifled? The shops, restaurants and local businesses in Exeter and Portsmouth (and in any town along a river) owe their prosperity to the energies of individuals, certainly. Yet these individuals are working, gaining property and contributing to the economy in communities that have been protected by 40 years of regulation under the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act.
I cannot believe today’s significant differences between New Hampshire Democrat and Republican platforms are due solely to rank-and-file members and leaders. Ideological interests with deep pockets (and getting deeper) promote and sustain an anti-regulation fervor in Concord, where good faith efforts to promote renewable energy and efficiency, protect shore land, clean our water and reduce carbon pollution are tagged as job-killing burdensome red tape regulations.
The Constitution is waved by some as the core defense against regulation, yet our state Constitution should be used on Earth Day and every day to protect New Hampshire’s natural resources:
Article 2 states, “All men have certain natural, essential, and inherent rights – among which are, the enjoying and defending life and liberty; acquiring, possessing, and protecting, property; and, in a word, of seeking and obtaining happiness.”
Hold on a minute. Article 3 (written on the same day in 1784), says, “When men enter into a state of society, they surrender up some of their natural rights to that society, in order to ensure the protection of others.”
The word ‘some’ is significant and permits interpretations by citizens and the courts. But wouldn’t you think that safe drinking water and breathable air fall within a “sweet spot”, deserving of strong protection in New Hampshire?
Earth Day 1970 began as an avenue for civic engagement, as a way for people to protect the environment by exercising the most important right contained in the First Amendment to the US Constitution: the right ””to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Ten and 44 years later, special interest money fuels the ideologies that often trump the sound science and intellectual excellence upon which reasoned debate and good governance depend. Let’s re-engage, as citizens, and help the Democrats and Republicans return to one path towards sustained protection of New Hampshire’s natural resources.