Obama’s Visionary Memorandum: Development Must Not Harm Natural Resources

Today, President Obama issued a visionary Presidential Memorandum, “Mitigating Impacts on Natural Resources from Development and Encouraging Related Private Investment.

Essentially it says that no development project sanctioned by the government should be at the expense of our natural heritage.

He calls for “no net loss” of natural resources and indeed, prefers projects have a “net benefit” for our nation’s land, water and wildlife. Economic development and environmental protection must go hand in hand.

“We all have a moral obligation to the next generation to leave America’s natural resources in better condition than when we inherited them. It is this same obligation that contributes to the strength of our economy and quality of life today,” the memo says.

The memorandum directs federal agencies to establish clear standards to avoid, mitigate, or offset impacts from development projects such as mining, drilling, logging and transmission lines on national public lands and waters.

It also encourages agencies “to promote investment by the non-profit and private sectors in restoration or enhancement of natural resources.” He points to performance contracts and other Pay for Success approaches as a way to finance measurable environmental benefits.

Does it include this US tar sands project?!! This beautiful
landscape it being destroyed as I write:

Tar Sands Utah Deer

“By creating a ‘no net loss’ standard for infrastructure and development projects under federal jurisdiction, the White House is setting a new precedent that human needs for food, fuel and fiber must not come at the expense of the environment. The President is creating a path for economic and environmental prosperity because he understands that, as our nation’s industries grow and thrive, we must also protect and enhance the natural systems that sustain us.

“It’s only every few decades – once in a generation – that we see this level of presidential action on conservation,” says Fred Krupp, Executive Director of Environmental Defense Fund.

Here’s an example of private investment in restoration:

“In September, investors began restoring more than 23,000 acres of wetlands in northern Minnesota. The area, which is one of the most important bird habitats in the state and home to many other significant plant and animal species, was drained in the early 1900s and abandoned. Decades later, it is being voluntarily restored in exchange for credits which can eventually be used to offset smaller areas of wetlands lost to development elsewhere in the state.

Similar approaches, known as wetland or mitigation banks, have successfully encouraged private developers to invest in conservation and have led to the protection of more than 800,000 acres of wetlands and important habitat,” explains Christy Goldfuss, Managing Director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.


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