“Stick to environmental protection on the Cape.” “Lay off the politics, stick to your mission.”
In addition to a lot of positive comments, I got a small amount of feedback for my last column that reflected the sentiments above. After thinking about it for a little while I feel more strongly than ever that effective environmental advocacy requires an understanding of, and willingness to comment on, the politics of the day. To do our job, to honor our pledge to our members to work hard to protect and preserve the natural environment of Cape Cod, APCC has to do more than talk a good game. We not only need to understand the political environment at the local, state and national levels, but we need to deftly and effectively operate within the political system to achieve the outcomes that reflect our core mission.
Environmental advocacy, when effective, has always required more than good rhetorical flourish and being on the right side of the issues. Transformational advocacy requires the ability to work within the political system to make big change. The seminal environmental legislation of our era, the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, Superfund, just to name a few, along with their state counterpart actions, all occurred because environmental advocates understood the opportunities presented by special moments and made the political system move to achieve great things.
Here on Cape Cod, APCC is at the center of the effort to arrest and reverse declines in water quality and change the trajectory of climate change locally. These are big things that we are committed to, and just talking about them is not enough for me, APCC staff and our board of directors. We are committed to using all the tools available to us to achieve our goals, and that means you can expect more discussion of relevant politics in this space.
As long as the national political scene remains as it is today with the administration hostile in its response to legitimate environmental concerns, expect us to continue to say so. When things change, and hopefully get better, we will comment on it as well. In all cases we will be looking to do as much as we can to further our mission by all means available to us.