The sweeping changes in both houses of Congress in the wake of the Nov. 7 general election are exciting for environmentalists, who for the last 12 years have watched as pro-environment legislation and rules were killed and anti-environment measures enacted.

The new Democratic majority has many legislators who are friendly to environmental issues, or at the very least not opposed to them.

But especially in light of the many other crises facing the nation and the planet, we will have to push hard to keep the well-being of Planet Earth in the forefront of Congress’ priorities in the months ahead.
This is the time to speak up and tell the Democratic leadership what issues are important to us, especially for Forests Forever supporters, in the bevy of issues affecting our state’s diverse and highly threatened forests, wildlife and wilderness areas.

Go to the phone, or sit down at your email, and send a message to the incoming Speaker of the House, Rep, Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco). Congratulate her on her new position and on the electoral victories of House Democrats. Thank her for the good job she has done over the years in supporting progressive environmental legislation in the face of resistance and indifference.

(The national League of Conservation Voters gave Pelosi a score of 100 percent on its key environmental legislation in 2005, compared to zero percent for her predecessor as speaker, Rep. Dennis Hastert [R-IL]. These numbers represent a fairly typical contrast between the Democratic and Republican caucuses in recent years, on environmental issues.)

After you have thanked Pelosi, remind her politely of all the rollbacks of environmental protections in recent years and of all the urgent conservation legislation that was never passed.

Remind her of the issues that are most important to forest-protection-minded citizens:

Global warming. This issue is about more than reducing U.S. consumption of foreign oil, though that is important too. But to truly address it, we will need a bundle of legislative initiatives: Greenhouse gas emissions limits. Stricter vehicle fuel economy standards. Energy conservation legislation. Bills that support alternate energy technologies. And forest protection and reforestation initiatives.

The Roadless Rule. The battle has moved to the courts, but Congress can make it moot by passing legislation that writes the protections of the roadless rule into law.

Giant Sequoia National Monument. The monument should be placed under the National Park Service. Take it away from the Forest Service, which only knows how to log it. Support the Act to Save America’s Forests (currently H.R. 6237 and S. 1897) and move it through committee.

The National Environmental Policy Act. This law is central to defending forests, open space, watersheds, and all public lands. It must be defended against attempts to weaken its provisions, especially those that provide for public input and appeal on public land decisions.

Endangered Species Act. This highly effective law to protect and restore disappearing plants and animals was under heavy assault by the likes of Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA), who was shown the door by Forests Forever and a coalition of other groups organizing in his Stockton-Tracy area district this last election cycle. But the ESA never has been fully and adequately funded, while many species languish and disappear. The ESA needs strengthening and better funding.

Call Rep. Pelosi at (202) 225-4965,

Or email her at:


Forests Forever:
Their Ecology, Restoration, and Protection
John J. Berger

from Forests Forever Foundation
and the Center for American Places