Americans strive for clean environment

 

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Category: International 24 Feb 11



Today, on Cleaning Up The Mess we present part one of a two-part guest column series by her Excellency Beatrice W Welters, US Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago who tells us how the Americans, under the Obama administration, are tackling serious environmental issues

BEATRICE W WALTERS

US Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago

Americans pride ourselves on the natural wonders of our country.  Hanging on the walls of US embassies worldwide are framed photographs capturing beautiful scenes of the mountains, rivers, fields and wildlife found in America’s national parks. The US Census Bureau recently published a fact about the United States that few people, Americans included, probably realise; of the country’s total land mass, 94 per cent remains categorised as undeveloped. 

But even with large tracts of land that many would deem “pristine,” or perhaps because of it, environmental awareness, conservation and protection have been hallmarks of the American experience since the country’s founding, and Americans of every political stripe and walk of life strive to be good stewards of the natural environment, whether as hikers, hunters, farmers, surfers or bird watchers.
American environmentalism mirrors our federal system of government, in that efforts to protect the environment simultaneously fall under the purview of federal, state and local units of government. 

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets the tone for our nation’s environmental strategy, implementing laws like the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act to regulate harmful emissions into the atmosphere and water supplies, and to set national standards for environmental protection.

Other government agencies, like the US Department of Energy, encourage the development of clean energy sources, and work with countries like Trinidad and Tobago to find unique methods to address shared goals.

In fact, the Department of Energy and the Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs are negotiating an agreement to exchange ideas and best practices in the renewable energy sector.

And in his recent State of the Union address, President Barack Obama challenged the US scientific and business communities to develop new clean energy alternatives that would create jobs, defend national security, and protect the planet. The US federal government, however, does not alone bear the duty to care for our natural world. State and local governments also take responsibility to ensure the protection and conservation of their own environs.

The State of California, for instance, has often led the country in setting new standards to combat air and water pollution, and many of its regulations have been replicated by other states and become accepted nationally by the federal government and private industry. Municipal governments, likewise, closely regulate the impact of human activities on open spaces, water and the atmosphere through land-use zoning, building permits, and emissions controls.  Municipal governments also take the lead on recycling efforts nationwide. 

It is now the habit of many Americans living in urban and suburban areas to separate their trash items, placing plastics, glass, cardboard and newspapers in special bins provided by their city governments, with trash haulers taking those materials to recycling centres.

 

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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur