What the Stimulus Package will do for Wildlife


At first glance, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act might not appear to have much to do with our natural world. It includes money to get Americans back to work, to help homeowners manage their mortgages and many other great provisions to fix our floundering economy.

But what the economic stimulus package does– beyond the immediate emergency response– is invest almost $80 billion in clean technologies for the first time in our history. We're talking more than just a nod to the thousands of National Wildlife Federation supporters who sent messages and made phone calls to Congress over the past couple of months to speak up for a wildlife-friendly stimulus package. Congress heard you loud and clear, and this time they're acting. We're talking serious investment in a future that promotes economic prosperity and preserves our natural world for generations to come!

Several years ago, when The West Wing was still on TV, Aaron Sorkin poked fun at a fictional group of wildlife advocates who were asking White House staffers to protect wolves from the loss of their natural habitat. They asked for a program to spend $900 million on a wolves-only roadway– and everyone laughed at the waste of money. "How would wolves know to follow roadsigns?" one character joked.

In the past, the attitude was that if you were speaking up for wildlife, you were doing so at the expense of America's wellbeing. Saving a wolf meant taking a dollar away from schools, defense, infrastructure. But every elected official who voted for the green stimulus package, became a wildlife advocate this week regardless of their intentions. The stimulus package showed a commitment to rebuilding the economy by restoring our natural world– showing that what's good for wildlife can be good for people too.

So, what's next? Now that our leadership has taken the first steps, we need to come together to ensure strong and comprehensive climate legislation gets passed in 2009 . Now's the time to speak up for a bill that caps global warming pollution and sparks investment in clean energy technologies that continue to rebuild our economy and restore our natural world.

2009 is the year we make it happen. For wolves and humans alike, stay tuned to the Climate Action Center for ways you can stay involved.

P.S. For those of you who were wondering, the West Wing episode is called "The Crackpots and These Women." And despite being written off as 'crackpots,' the wildlife advocates did convince one White House staffer to speak up for wolves.

Published: February 18, 2009