Here at Western Values Project, we’re excited to hit the ground running. But one thing makes us happier than anything else: we get to speak for our friends, our neighbors, and our fellow Westerners who want and expect our public lands to produce good-paying jobs, provide world-class recreation and tourism opportunities, and support healthy, thriving communities. That mix is only possible when our government and industry strikes the right balance between energy development and conservation – and that’s why I’ve built Western Values Project to hold our government accountable.
It’s pretty simple. Across partisan lines, socio-economic status, geography, race, cowboy boots, or Teva’s, a majority of us believe we need to protect the places we hunt, fish, ski, snowmobile, hike, ride horses and mountain bike. Many of us spend the most important parts of our lives outside. We want America to move towards energy independence and we understand the importance of energy development in this country – and that’s exactly why Westerners are calling for a common-sense approach we call balance.
Unfortunately, Westerners are simply not part of the Washington equation. All too often industry lobbyists and their allies in government dominate our debate about oil and gas issues.
At Western Values Project we’ll question:
An overwhelming majority of Westerners have made their values and demands clear – now, they deserve somebody who speaks up for them.
I’m proud to call the West home. I grew up in Missoula, Montana and at 18, left home to join the U.S. Air Force. It took returning to Montana years later for me to understand how lucky we are as Westerners. Crisscrossing sagebrush in search of antelope with my family, looking upwards at the clear night sky, and learning to fall — and occasionally ski — are memories of my childhood. I also know my experience isn’t unique. I want future generations to have those same memories.
We have a unique way of life in the West. It’s why millions of us choose to call the region home, why millions more visit each year, and why innovative startups ranging from tech companies to pharmaceutical research locate their headquarters and employees here.
And our treasured landscapes aren’t just important for our way of life, they’re important for our pocketbooks. In fact, tourism is the region’s second largest industry, and billions of dollars in economic activity are generated each year from the small businesses that serve the area.
At Western Values Project we know folks work hard every day, and we all use our natural resources to travel, turn the lights on, and put food on our tables. The recession has been hard on all of us, but as the region works towards economic recovery, westerners are demanding a balanced approach. We need a balance between conservation and energy development. We need common sense to tell us where it’s appropriate to drill for oil and gas, and what areas are appropriate to leave alone. At Western Values Project we echo that sentiment.
For those of us lucky enough to call the West home, we know folks put aside their differences to get things done, and snowcapped peaks are the great equalizer. A handshake really does mean something out here. It’s a guarantee of your personal integrity. At Western Values Project, holding public officials, lobbyists, and industry insiders accountable is our primary objective.
We will advocate for a thoughtful common sense approach to oil and gas leasing, and make sure when we do develop our lands, we’re protecting the air, water, and treasured landscapes that drive our Western economy. Along the way we won’t be afraid to call out officials who mislead the public or misspend our limited resources, and we’ll champion the folks who work together to get things done. At Western Values Project we know energy use is a fact of modern life, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be smart from the start.
As Westerners we take great pride in being good stewards of the land. We know we only get one chance to do it right, let’s make sure we do it the right way.