Governor Howard Dean
Presidential Primary Campaign Speech, July 2003—“The Next Hundred Years: Forging a Strong Environmental Policy to Take Back Our Natural Resources”
I had written two previous speeches for Gov. Dean when the campaign’s Policy Director called me up and asked me to write this one—practically from scratch—in four hours. I told him I could do it in eight. And I did.
One hundred years ago, President Theodore Roosevelt visited the Grand Canyon for the first time. And he asked the people of Arizona to make sure that it stayed unspoiled. “Leave it as it is,” President Roosevelt said. “Keep it for your children and your children’s children and for all who come after you, as one of the great sights which every American should see.”
It may seem odd to you that a Democratic presidential candidate would quote so approvingly something said by a Republican president. But there’s a reason. When President Roosevelt made that speech, he was exhibiting something that we haven’t seen in this country for a long, long time. And that is a Republican president providing leadership on the environment.
Because of President Roosevelt’s leadership, when we visit the Grand Canyon, our children can see pretty much the same view he did. But what legacy is the Bush-Cheney-Norton Administration leaving for the next hundred years?
Alaska’s Tongass National Forest is the largest rain forest in our nation. When our children’s children visit in 100 years, what will they see? Last month, the Bush Administration said it wants to open the Tongass to more logging. If they have their way, roads will slice through what’s left of the pristine forest. Loggers and their heavy machinery will cut down its old-growth trees. Natural habitats will be destroyed. That’s not leadership. We can do better.
In Utah, the Administration rolled when a long-dormant lawsuit was resurrected. The “settlement” the Administration agreed to limits government’s ability to protect the country’s remaining wilderness. That’s not leadership. We can do better.
In Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, the Administration overturned a rule proposed after years of discussion with scientists and the public a rule phasing out snowmobiles in those two parks. The Bush Administration made a deal with the snowmobile industry and blocked the rule. That’s not leadership. We can do better.