Thursday marks the 40th anniversary of the first Earth Day, which is traditionally recognized as the start of the modern environmental movement. It also ushered in a new era of conservation and protection of our natural resources.
The environmental movement has largely been successful in increasing our awareness of man's impact on the planet.
And, for the most part, there have been beneficial changes. Our air is cleaner. Our water is cleaner. Americans are recycling household goods and conserving energy.
Companies have followed new regulations to produce goods that are more environmentally friendly. For example, a car manufactured today produces 20 times fewer emissions than a car made in 1970. Industries use recycled materials in the items they produce.
As a nation, we are more in tune with the environment than ever before. We have protected and continue to protect endangered species. We have taken steps to ban harmful chemicals to protect our land, our air, and our water.
Those are important things, to be sure, but we must be vigilant so that environmental advocacy does not infringe on personal freedom and American traditions.
An oceans and Great Lakes management policy proposed by the Obama administration, for instance, that could ban Americans from fishing in the Great Lakes, on our coasts, and even in some inland waters. The proposed cap and trade bill could place punishing taxes on American businesses, stifling the economic recovery and jeopardizing millions of jobs.
Environmental responsibility must be balanced with the realities of personal freedom and the American economy.
Burdensome overregulation of both businesses and individual citizens is not the best way to protect our resources.
Instead, we need commonsense approaches to environmental policy, our eye constantly focused on the freedoms and liberties granted to us by the Constitution and our American heritage.