“When we do more to preserve our marine resources and wildlife habitats, we have a firm foundation to provide better access for all people to enjoy our beautiful Gulf of Mexico.”
These words were penned by former First Lady of the United States, Laura Bush, in a well-written and moving letter in the Houston Chronicle. While I am very impressed with her efforts in Texas to conserve the coasts and coral-laden seamounts of the Gulf, I am only disappointed to recognize the cautionary tale of the BP Deepwater Horizon catastrophe when she write,
“The Gulf region is one of the fastest-developing areas in the world and a dynamic environment used by tens of millions of people for diverse purposes. Clean and healthy marshes, beaches and bays mean abundant fisheries, protection from storm surge and hurricanes, and a vibrant tourism economy. Vital commerce and industry and rich coastal and marine ecosystems have coexisted for generations in the Gulf.”
Yet her message that “conservation and economic development are not mutually exclusive” is very important, and I really want to do everything I can to carry this message throughout my career, but we need to remember that the two need to listen and compromise with each other.
I thank Laura for her commitment to environmental protection and for passionately trying to find a happy medium between conservation and growing local economies. I also thank George Bush for protecting more of the marine environment than any of his predecessors. I heavily disagree with their conservative politics but am heartened that the love of the ocean is a shared, nonpartisan characteristic.
Now, more than ever in this crazy political climate, we need role models on the conservative side that value natural resources and environmental protection. Time and again, it is shown that conservation often makes good business sense. Healthy environments make it easier for people to live more healthy, happy lives.