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Toasting a Big Environmental Year

December 28, 2009

HARTFORD, Conn. - The year now ending was horrendous for the U.S. economy, but the environment prospered, according to a checklist from the National Wildlife Federation. Adam Kolton is the group's senior director of congressional and federal affairs. He says a number of success stories occurred in 2009, including passage in the House of the Clean Energy and Security Act to create clean energy jobs, reduce global warming and get away from U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

"We can feel good knowing that we're, at least, finally moving in the right direction to end that addiction to oil and jump start the clean-energy economy that we're so desperate for."

Kolton says another major accomplishment was Cash for Clunkers, which had benefits for both the economy and the environment.

"The consumers made the right choices on their own. People decided to trade in older clunkers for very fuel efficient vehicles, so that was a huge milestone."

Wildlife and natural resources funding also received a major boost in 2009, Kolton says, with a $4.7 billion increase to the Interior appropriation budget from the prior year.

"It begins to make right many of the cuts and challenges these areas faced. It was good news, and it's good news for every wildlife refuge, park and wilderness area."

The Federation points to President Obama's recent trip to the international climate conference in Copenhagen as an indication of the commitment by the White House to tackle climate change. Also on the checklist is passage of the Public Lands Omnibus Bill, which protects millions more acres of public lands and waters, and Obama administration policy changes to put teeth back into the Clean Air Act.

More information is available from the National Wildlife Federation, 1-800-822-9919.

The full checklist, "Accomplishments for 2009: Changing the Forecast for Wildlife," is at www.nwf.org.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - CT