To appreciate the impact of a McCain administration on the health of the Chesapeake Bay, one needs to understand the strong stewardship ethic that guides Sen. John McCain's policy decisions.
Senator McCain cites three strong influences that shape his approach to protecting the environment.
The first is his personal hero Theodore Roosevelt. McCain is a true expert on Roosevelt and his conservation legacy. He has said that he will appoint environmental officials who reflect a conservation ethic reminiscent of great conservation champions like Roosevelt.
The second is the late Morris K. Udall. Udall, a Democratic congressman who is revered-along with Roosevelt- as one of our nation's greatest environmental champions, was a close friend of Senator McCain. The two teamed up to protect more than 3 million acres of wilderness in their home state of Arizona.
The third is the Grand Canyon, which Senator McCain says is "a special, sacred place whose timeless beauty moves me." He refers to it as a "monumental inspiration regarding our obligation to be faithful stewards."
Senator McCain has made it his mission to advocate policies that protect the interests of future generations and ensure that they will inherit "the blessings of a rich, productive and unspoiled natural heritage." He has also said that improving the management of our nation's wetlands, fisheries and ocean ecosystems will be one of his top priorities as president.
Senator McCain is not only a dedicated steward of our environment, he is also a steward of taxpayer dollars. Critical natural resources like the Chesapeake Bay, the Great Lakes and the Everglades stand to benefit greatly from Senator McCain's efforts to rein in unnecessary, and often environmentally destructive, pork-barrel spending and require independent review of water projects.
This will mean that important water resource dollars currently being wasted on special-interest driven pet projects can be available for efforts that are clear national priorities, such as Chesapeake Bay restoration.
Another hallmark of Senator McCain's approach to environmental policy is his commitment to making decisions based on sound science and facts, not on special-interest politics. Senator McCain's fight against the influence of special interests and his dedication to government transparency and accountability will be a great plus for efforts to safeguard our environment.
The Bay, like other marine environments, is coming under increasing pressure from the impacts of climate change. Addressing climate change and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels are important to the future health of the Bay.
The fact is, no member of Congress, Republican or Democrat, has done more to move this nation towards an effective response to global warming than Senator McCain.
Senator McCain has done more than just say the right things, or vote the right way. He has exercised real leadership.
Senator McCain is one of the lead authors of the bipartisan Climate Stewardship Act, a cap-and-trade bill that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions 67 percent by 2050. This bill has been introduced since 2003 and Senator McCain used the political capital necessary to secure votes on the bill in the face of opposition by his own party members.
His leadership didn't stop there. To build support for climate legislation, Senator McCain undertook an intensive effort to educate his colleagues in both the Senate and the House about climate change and mankind's role. He has taken skeptical senators and representatives to the ends of the earth, including Antarctica, Alaska, Greenland and New Zealand, to show them the impacts of global warming and change their minds on this issue.
Senator McCain's long record of dedication to fighting climate change and his bipartisan approach offer the best opportunity for signing long-overdue climate legislation into law.
People who care about the health of the Bay and its fisheries should also be excited about Senator McCain's choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. No state in the union does a better job of protecting its marine fisheries than her home state. Alaska's program is the example ocean advocates point to as the best model of fishery management.
Governor Palin, herself a commercial and sport fisherman, has made fishery protection a priority. She developed a rigorous enforcement protocol to ensure that cruise ships, which are like small cities in their environmental footprint, obey a state law prohibiting the dumping of waste in state waters.
You can be sure that a McCain-Palin administration will have the stewardship ethic and the experience to be a strong and effective advocate for the Chesapeake Bay and the people who depend on it.