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The single-issue voter: A birder’s look at Bill Richardson – D – OUT

September 11, 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 ninth part of The Drinking Bird’s sixteen part series.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, polling between 5-10%, is the first candidate I’ve looked at who has executive experience. He’s also been a congressman, an Ambassador to the United Nations, and Secretary of Energy in the Clinton administration. And he really wants you to pick up the damn phone, seriously, he doesn’t have all day.

Candidate Richardson claims that he has fought for conservation his entire career in public service. He has in fact, been recognized as Environmental Leader of the Year by the National Environmental Trust and the National Wildlife Federation, though which year exactly is unclear. He supports enforcement of the Endangered Species Act, and honestly, the fact that he even mentions it is a step in the right direction even though the Act itself was recently weakened practically to the point of ineffectiveness. Also along those lines, he opposes drilling in ANWR and new road building in national forests and proposes a cabinet level Secretary of Water to oversea the nation’s water issues. It’s assumed such a position would bring light to the nation’s issues not only regarding the cleanliness of our water supply but also problems regarding water distribution in the west, ostensibly for farmers but the benefit for birds is obvious. His energy policy heavily emphasizes conservation and efficiency with little emphasis on ethanol and biofuel, a welcome change from most of his colleagues.

As a Governor, Richardson wasn’t in the position to take easily discernible positions on environmental issues, there’s no recent voting record to parse. But he initiated the creation of new state parks, expanded many that already existed and he fought vigorously against the Bush administration’s attempts to open nearly 2 million acres of desert grassland to oil and gas exploration. His devotion to land conservation is impressive, as New Mexico is well-known for its important wintering grounds for waterfowl and a small population of Whooping Cranes at Bosque del Apache NWR.

Richardson is an excellent environmental candidate, his ideas on conservation of both energy and land are very bird-friendly and as Governor of New Mexico he’s shown foresight with regards to both.

Next: I win one for the GOPper

Update 1/10/08 – Richardson has dropped out of the race

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