One oft heard criticism of GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is that his core values always seem to be in flux. There is, however, one notable exception to this line of attack. Romney's commitment to his Mormon faith has not been challenged and should thus provide an opportunity to corner the candidate on his environmental views.
That is because Mormonism preaches we are stewards of the earth and ordains we must use its resources wisely to preserve the planet's beauty. Some Mormon politicians have put the emphasis on "preserve" and become national environmental leaders -- the Udall family (with two members currently in the U.S. Senate) being cases in point. Other Mormon politicians consider the "use" of resources to be the pivotal terminology. They view the phrase as essentially an invitation to heavily exploit the environment for commercial purposes, sometimes at great detriment to ecological health.
So which interpretation caries the day for Governor Romney? His silence is deafening, but on some of the nation's major environmental challenges, he is not alone.
Both he and President Obama have so far avoided any significant reference to environmental matters that have potentially life and death implications for future generations, if not out own. How does one correct this great disservice to the American people?
Long overdue pressure must come from the media, which now has guidance from some of the nation's preeminent science organizations in regard to drawing out the candidates. These scientific bodies have drafted the following elemental questions that they hope the press will pose and the candidates answer in prompt fashion. To paraphrase:
- What are President Obama's and Governor Romney's positions on cap and trade, carbon taxes, and other emission reduction strategies designed to cope with climate change?
- What policies would they support to meet energy demand while ensuring an economically and environmentally sustainable future?
- What steps should the federal government take to assure the health, safety and productivity of the food supply?
- What strategies should the federal government implement, if any, to secure clean, abundant fresh water for all Americans, especially in light of increasing consumption, evaporation and pollution?
- What role should the federal government play in reversing the declining fisheries, deteriorating coral reefs, and increased pollution plaguing our oceans?
- What moves should the federal government make to ensure the quality and availability of critical natural resources?
Politicians can't be let off the hook on these elemental matters, because if they don't address the questions head-on -- and soon -- our preoccupation with the economy could ultimately become academic.