The results of a recent national tally by the Trust for Public Land (TPL) buoyed the spirits of environmentalists disheartened by the recent re-election of George W. Bush: voters in 111 communities across 25 states, it turns out, passed ballot measures funding $11 billion for conservation, including $2.4 billion for protecting land for parks and open space.
“American voters are remarkably consistent in approving three out of every four funding measures for land conservation, both before 9/11 and after, whether in recession or recovery,” reported TPL president Will Rogers. Interestingly, more than half of all the conservation ballot measures passed this year were in Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan and New Jersey, all of which offer matching funds to local governments for successful initiatives.
Meanwhile, the Environmental Integrity Project and the Natural Resources Defense Council did some tallying of their own, only to find out that the Bush administration has had the worst environmental enforcement record since George H. W. Bush was in office. The groups reported that the $56.8 million in civil penalties collected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency during fiscal 2004 is the lowest amount since 1990.
Indeed, despite the apparent continued support of the American people, the environmental community has its work cut out for it as it assumes defensive positions for four more years.