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The single-issue voter: A birder’s look at Chris Dodd – D – OUT

August 20, 2007
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It’s that time again. As civic-minded individuals do, I’m oft interested in how the platforms of those running for president affect my life, that’s as a birder naturally. With so many candidates and elections still more than a year off I decided to do the work so you, dear reader(s), don’t have to. So here’s what I hope will be a regular look as those who would be birder-in-chief. Starting with the long-shots and working my way up so that you all will be prepared when the time comes to cast your ballot. The third part of The Drinking Bird’s however-many-part series.

Climbing the Democratic ladder, the next rung is Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd, polling at 1%. Dodd’s birding bonafides were not easy to find. In the minds of many of these presidential candidates an environmental platform concerns one thing and one thing only. I think you all know what that is; black gold, Texas tea. And while this is certainly an important issue who’s relevance to more than just aspects of environmental importance is obvious, it gives the impression that candidates are less interested in issues more pressing to birds and birders. Fair enough, we’re a small demographic but protection of the commons is important to every American, even if they aren’t as intimately aware of it as birders are.

In his time in the Senate, Chris Dodd has built an impressive environmental record. He has consistently opposed oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, home to nesting shorebirds and waterfowl, and has voted no to increased funding for road-building in national forests. He has also supported continued desert protection in California and is rated 84% by the League of Conservation Voters.

Dodd’s environmental policy has drawn accolades from many environmental groups as a bold and creative plan to deal with energy issues. As oil heavy as it is, it’s effect on birds is likely to be no more than that which can be assumed by cleaner air and water. He does however, plan to make investments in biofuel and ethanol production, which taken on an industrial level often have a detrimental effect on those birds who depend on short and long-grass prairie. The historical range of Mountain Plovers and Lesser Prairie-Chicken have already been largely destroyed by big agriculture, putting these birds and others into dire straits. The Amazonian forests suffer as well in the biofuel boom, as vast tracts of virgin rainforest are destroyed to make way for industrial soybean farms to meet the biofuel demand in the industrialized world. And yet nowhere in Dodd’s platform does he mention energy conservation as a viable option.

Dodd deserves praise for a forward thinking energy plan, but his reliance on biofuels at the expense of conservation maintains continued unsustainable growth at the expense of bird populations. The effect on birds in a Dodd administration would likely be a wash. He could certainly stand to do better.

Next: Up with GOPeople…

Update 1/4/08 – Dodd has dropped out of the race

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