Environmental protection and the economy. Not “or” the economy.

Election time commentary:  I want to see our political “leaders” start framing debate in a more constructive fashion rather than the destructive, toxic atmosphere that seems to characterize nearly all discussion of this issue.  Thoughtfully designed and effectively administered, environmental regulation and protection is good for the economy.  An economy that depends upon degrading the environment is unsustainable.  On the other hand, thoughtful design and effective administration demand wisdom, expertise, long-term vision, and sufficiently funded environmental programs to support industry, small business, and all the efforts to revive and expand our economy.  Presenting these two pillars of our nation in opposition to one another short-changes our citizens.  For example, by presenting the issue of energy in the context of “energy independence,” the coal industry tries to convince the nation that there is such a thing as “clean” coal.  Huh?  There is less dirty coal, but there is no such thing as clean coal.  The “green” industry tries to convince the nation that wind and solar energy production is the only way to go, but those sources will never likely provide even a majority of the nation’s energy needs under current projections. Do you ever hear the discussion framed in the context of how we educate the nation regarding energy conservation, of how we need to use existing fossil fuels as efficiently as possible while we make the long term (think several decades to a century or more) transition to a more non-fossil fuel (not “no” fossil fuel,  less fossil fuel) supported economy?  On occasion, you may hear that from former elected officials and ex-political appointees no longer concerned with re-election or retaining a senior political position, but you won’t hear it from any incumbent or someone running for office or seeking a high level appointed position.  Such talk would be considered political suicide. That’s a shame and a disservice to the citizens of this nation.