Rarer by far than originality in science is originality in political action. And rarer still is original political action that enlarges, rather than blights or destroys, human possibilities.
Satisfying unlimited demands through limited means is society's most fundamental challenge. Our political system has great leverage in determining whose demands will be met. From second-hand smoke to intellectual property, elected and appointed public officials make decisions that profoundly impact both the way we live our lives and our quality of life. Decisions involving the environment are no exception.
Certain sectors of society have clearly recognized the importance of the political process and have taken steps to enter this arena. Environmentalists need look no further than the industrial community for examples of groups that have benefited from sophisticated political strategies. Chemical, logging, nuclear and automotive industries have developed means to ensure that their priorities are represented at all legislative levels.
Collectively, environmental organizations and concerned citizens have protected our air, water, and wilderness using a variety of approaches. The regulatory and judicial processes, public education and outreach, direct action, and ballot initiatives are venues through which environmentalists have achieved landmark victories.
However, these victories are only as secure as the commitment and ideology of the elected and appointed public officials who oversee their implementation. Ultimately, these lawmakers have the final authority to either rescind or pass strong environmental legislation, and to empower the local, state, and federal administrators who carry it out. While some aspects of modern politics are distasteful, the need to engage in the process--to score new victories and to preserve prior ones--is imperative.
We formed CFEP to elevate environmental concerns in this vital arena and to encourage environmentally-minded individuals to become more active in electoral and citizen-appointment politics.