Preserving our resources today for a better tomorrow
I have had the privilege of visiting all 50 states and can say with confidence that America is unparalleled in its beauty, diversity, heritage and wealth of natural resources. From deserts to mountains, swamps, coastlines and everything in between, ours is a country like no other. Church organist Katherine Lee Bates perhaps said it best when, inspired by her view from the top of Pikes Peak, she wrote the now-familiar chorus, “Oh beautiful, for spacious skies/For waves of amber grain/For violet mountain majesties/Above the fruity plain.”
Given our vast natural wonders and resources, we have an incredible responsibility to take good care of them. I believe it is our unchosen obligation, to manage our resources in such a way as to leave them in a better state than we inherited them.
Unfortunately, environmental stewardship often takes precedence over competing bureaucratic interests. It doesn’t have to be that way. Science-based forest management can curb devastating wildfires, sustainable energy production can take place right here at home, and local leaders can effectively manage and care for native wildlife in their communities. That’s the point. So how do you get there?
First, we start by recognizing that America is unmatched in innovation and potential. We should always be looking for ways to make the environment cleaner, healthier and more resilient, but that doesn’t negate how far we’ve come. Instead of engaging in the punitive and scare tactics of the left, we must instead unleash the full potential of American industry and solutions. The United States is already a leader in emissions reductions and clean technology. Let’s keep it that way by allowing the free market to work.
Second, we must hold global aggressors accountable. Look no further than Putin’s messy rampage in Ukraine. He doesn’t care about environmental regulations, but he controls vast power sources like the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and uses them as leverage to get what he wants. Americans are feeling pain at the gas pump as a direct result. That’s why Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and I introduced the US Energy Independence from Russia Act, to promote clean and safe energy production. to meet our national needs and those of our allies.
It is not just energy resources that Russia is exploiting for its own gain; Russia also has a thriving forest products industry. Last year alone, the United States imported half a billion dollars worth of forest products from Russia and Belarus. That’s why I introduced the No Timber from Tyrants Act, which would immediately ban these imports and hurt a significant part of Putin’s economy, while simultaneously boosting American industries.
We cannot forget China either. They now control the vast majority of production of critical minerals outside of the United States. Our modern lives, from your cellphone to your car battery to your TV and everything in between, are built on these minerals, and yet President Biden and congressional Democrats are content to say “not in my backyard”, shut down American mines and sell them to China. That’s why my fellow Republicans have joined with the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee to introduce the US Critical Minerals Independence Act, which would reduce reliance on minerals from and overseas by supporting responsible development and innovation of domestic minerals in the United States.
These and many more of our Republican policies aren’t rocket science; they are sensible and practical solutions to the problems we face, and we can implement them immediately. Unfortunately, Democrats in this administration and in Congress refuse to listen to science. Instead, they put the United States last, choosing instead to line the pockets of China, Russia, Venezuela and other OPEC+ countries to meet our nation’s demands for natural resources. .
I refuse to think that America should be ashamed or afraid when it comes to responsible use of our natural resources. I look at what we have already achieved in science and technology, and I believe the best is yet to come. We’ve brought species back from the brink of extinction, produced cutting-edge, cleaner-than-ever energy technology, and have the best and brightest minds in the world constantly innovating. Now is not the time to bow down to our adversaries, we must lead and lead by example.
I am honored to fight for conservation, free market innovation, open access to public lands, and government transparency here in Congress, and know that the work of the Committee on Natural Resources on these issues has only just begun. . Our beautiful nation deserves nothing less.
• US Representative Bruce Westerman, Republican of Arkansas, is the ranking member of the Committee on Natural Resources and sits on the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. A native of Hot Springs, he represents the state’s 4th congressional district and is part of the Minority Whip team. An engineer and forester by trade, he was named Engineer of the Year by the Arkansas Society of Professional Engineers in 2013.