Economic stimulus bills — and what should be in them — are a hot topic right now.
The Nature Conservancy isn’t influencing the overall debate about what these bills should contain, but we do believe that we can improve the economy and the environment by investing in restoration and reducing the damages to natural environments caused by infrastructure development.
The Conservancy’s director of government relations, Bob Bendick, had this to say about the spending proposal, in a blog post for the National Journal Online:
“The nation’s rivers, coasts, estuaries, forests and grasslands, including millions of acres of public lands, can be termed “green infrastructure” that is directly and indirectly linked to billions of dollars in economic productivity and a wide range of ecosystem services.”
Wetlands improve water quality. Forests can absorb the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide. Oyster reefs can provide protection from coastal storms.
“Broken ecosystems only provide a fraction of these benefits, so fixing this green infrastructure is a legitimate target for stimulus spending,” says Bendick.
Bendick also suggests that the government set aside funding to mitigate the environmental damages caused from original infrastructure development, and that we continue to use the environmental review process (NEPA) for all stimulus-funded projects.
Seeing as how we got into this economic mess in part by doing things unsustainably and without foresight, this seems like a no-brainer.
What do you think?
(Image: Cormorant in wetlands habitat, Massachusetts. Image: Cheryl Rose)