Dear NRDC BioGems Defender,
"What's going to happen if President Bush is reelected?"
That's a question I heard a lot last month. My answer was simple: we'll be shell-shocked for a day, and then NRDC will come out fighting for the like there's no tomorrow.
Well, the shock has set in. We've spent the better part of four years publicizing and challenging the president's assault on our forests, western wildlands and wildlife habitats. As a tax-deductible organization, NRDC could not oppose or support a candidate for president. But a lot of hopes were pinned on the ballot box as the fastest way to terminate the Bush administration's giveaways to logging, timber and mining companies.
Those hopes were dashed yesterday. The president prevailed, despite his horrific environmental record, which remains at odds with the views of the overwhelming majority of Americans.
We're stunned not so much by the outcome itself. After all, President Bush was a slight favorite to win this election. No, the look of distress on faces all around NRDC's offices today is true alarm at what lies ahead. As sweeping as this administration's attack on the environment has been, things are about to get worse. Perhaps much worse.
It was only the threat of the ballot box - of answering to the American people - that caused the Bush administration to backburner many of its most destructive plans. The White House has already signaled that the attacks of the past four years are but the leading edge of a much broader assault that will come in a second term.
Look for it to begin over the next few weeks with new attempts to auction off vast stretches of our Alaskan rainforest for clearcutting . . . open Greater Yellowstone and other beloved wildlands to oil and gas drilling . . . and hand over the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to giant oil companies.
So, yes, take one full day for feeling shell-shocked.
But prepare yourself. Tomorrow the battle will be joined. And we must be ready.
You can take heart in this: thanks to your support, NRDC and our BioGems campaigns have succeeded in stalling, blocking or sinking the worst of President Bush's attempts so far to exploit and destroy our last wild places.
And let me tell you, the second Bush administration will have to contend with an NRDC that now wields the most potent combination of grassroots activism, courtroom power and media outreach ever assembled by one public interest organization.
That impressive operation - one million Members and BioGems Defenders, scores of attorneys, the best rapid response operation in the business - will be focused like a laser on stopping the onslaught to come.
Failure is not an option. Everything we have fought for and achieved over the past 35 years is at stake. In the weeks ahead, I will be reporting to you in more detail on NRDC's action plan for defending our last wild places during President Bush's second term.
But I can share one key element of that plan right now: you. We're counting on you to stay the course with our BioGems campaigns. We need your outrage. We need your activism. If we have those, we are going to prevail.
John H. Adams
Natural Resources Defense Council
BioGems: Saving Endangered Wild Places
A project of the Natural Resources Defense Council