Will you protect the Forever Wild Land Trust?
Absolutely! The Trust’s effort to protect land, in cooperation with land owners, is a wise investment for all Alabamians. Rather than controversial government declarations or condemnations, Forever Wild is based upon the willingness of a private landowner to agree to sell or lease. No tax revenue is involved. As a District Director for the Alabama Wildlife Federation, I am and will remain committed to principles of conservation and wise use of our wildlife and natural resources and to ensure a high quality of life for future generations of Alabamians.
Will you publicly oppose any bills that threaten the Forever Wild Land Trust?
Absolutely! In today’s dangerous political climate of dismantling most any program that benefits citizens or protects our environment, I will remain on guard for any legislative or judicial effort to attack Forever Wild. Regardless of the wonderful success of Forever Wild, Alabama has only a small fraction of protected land compared to other southeastern states, so the effort must continue. The Trust is a model that is working effectively, and I will stand against any effort that could do it harm.
In order to protect our freshwater resources, do you support the completion of a comprehensive water plan for Alabama?
Certainly! Alabama is the only state in the GA., FL. AL tri-state that does not have a Comprehensive Water Plan. We have thankfully begun water assessments. Gathering data about water, usage, flow, and quality can and must lead to such a plan. I support these efforts and will work to see a Plan come to fruition. A Comprehensive Water Plan will provide a structure for critical decisions that affect water quality and availability. Additionally, it can provide prospective industries with needed data as well as support Alabama’s position as we battle with Georgia and Florida for this most precious natural resource.
What is your vision for how oil spill dollars can be utilized to restore coastal Alabama?
As chair of the Alabama Gulf Coast Recovery Council, I will insist on adherence to the RESTORE Act. I believe all expenditures should have a clear connection to natural restoration of costal land, waterways, wet-lands, ecosystems, & beaches as well as the affected communities and economies. My leadership of the Council will be focused upon maintaining a collective focus on its mission. It is most critical that these funds be allocated and utilized ethically and lawfully. I will oppose and within my authority, block any deviation from this standard.
Will you support legislation that would increase Alabamians’ ability to choose solar energy for their homes and businesses?
Yes! Alabama’s protection of monopolistic energy companies from innovation is backward-thinking at best. Alabamians’ average monthly electric bills rank 2nd highest in the nation. The free market ideology espoused by Alabama’s GOP is further tainted by its routine refusal to allow competition for any of its supporting industries. When people who have opportunities to invest in cleaner, and renewal energy sources reap rewards for themselves, others who join them, as well as the communities they may serve, energy companies will be forced to change or be left behind.
I will strongly support efforts to repeal restrictive laws as well as propose laws that provide incentives for development and use of solar energy and other renewal resources.
What do you think are the most important conservation issues in Alabama right now?
Alabama’s Department of Environmental Management is totally ineffective by design and intentional inaction of the legislature which has been supported by Republican administrations.. It lacks funding as well as supporting statutory enforcement power. As federal regulations continue to be dismantled, I will propose additional funding and supporting legislation for ADEM including severe and substantial monetary penalties for violations, all of which would flow into ADEM resources. We must have and ADEM that truly works for the people.
We need a Comprehensive Water Plan. Everyone has a right to clean drinking water and, if we are to maintain the status of world’s greatest nation no one should have to walk any farther than their kitchen for it. Alabama is blessed with more waterways than many states. We must end the pollution of these resources from industrial discharge as well as agricultural run-off.
We must move forward with development and utilization of renewable energy. Allowing Alabamians the opportunity to directly observe the advantages that these sources offer can foster a change in the cultural attitude toward conservation. This change in the public cultural attitude may be the most important issue of all.
In your opinion, what is the governor’s role in supporting conservation in Alabama?
The governor is the leader and face of state government. The governor leads by upholding the law and establishing the goals and standards of how state government serves the people. The budget I present to the legislature each year will establish these goals. My priority of funding proposals for our publicly determined conservation goals, including those noted above, will be clearly and frequently enunciated to the legislature and to the public and will be reliably supported until fulfilled. It will be a breath of fresh air for all Alabamians.
My role as head of myriad state agencies, boards, and councils will provide ample opportunities to change Alabama’s course, and I will use them to do so.
Please describe any experience you have with Alabama’s natural environment or with
I am a District 4 Director for the Alabama Wildlife Federation. My appreciation of the environment began growing up on a farm in Colony, Alabama. I know what it is like to be dependent upon the land as well as not having indoor plumbing. From my childhood as well as representing farmers of crops and poultry & livestock in the Alabama Legislature, I understand the importance of respecting and protecting the land and our natural resources while using their bounty for our human purposes.